ELLSWORTH — President Barack Obama has designated 87,563 acres donated to the U.S. government by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby of Gouldsboro as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
There are 58 national parks in the United States and 36 began as national monuments, among them Acadia National Park.
The 13 deeds covering land east of Baxter State Park represents a total acreage almost twice the size of Acadia National Park.
The land will be managed by the National Park Service, according to the White House.
“Katahdin Woods and Waters is an exceptional example of the rich and storied Maine woods, enhanced by its location in a larger protected landscape, and thus would be a valuable addition to the nation’s natural, historical and cultural heritage conserved and enjoyed in the National Park System,” Obama wrote in his Aug. 24 proclamation.
In an accompanying fact sheet, the White House said studies have shown every dollar invested in national parks generates $10 for the national economy, most of which stays in local communities.
The land was transferred to the federal government Aug. 23 by Quimby’s family-owned Elliotsville Plantation Inc.
The board of directors for Elliotsville Plantation said: “Our family would like to thank President Obama and the members of his administration for their hard work to safeguard America’s natural treasures and for their efforts to prepare the National Park Service for its next 100 years of success. This designation is a fitting tribute to the ‘Centennial of America’s Greatest Idea.’”
The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
The land transfer was recorded in the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds.
The Bangor Daily News first reported the story Aug. 23.
Quimby, a seasonal resident of the Schoodic peninsula, later confirmed in an email that the transfer had taken place.
Quimby and, in recent years, her son, Lucas St. Clair, have been working to have the land designated a national park since 2011.
Quimby has said she would contribute $40 million to help maintain the new public space and said it would give the area a much needed economic boost.
There has a been a great deal of local opposition from sportsmen and the forest products industry, opposition echoed by Governor Paul LePage, among other political figures.
LePage last spring signed a bill that stated the Legislature did not consent to the federal government acquiring land for a national monument.
U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) wrote a letter to Obama saying they had “serious reservations” about the proposal and included conditions they hoped to see in a National Monument designation.
Many environmental and business groups have backed Quimby’s plan, saying her vision suited the area and would replace income lost by the diminishing paper industry.
The deeds for the individual parcels were signed by Quimby as the grantor and by Rachel McManus, deputy realty officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, as the grantee.
Although Congress has the sole authority to create national parks, presidents may designate national monuments by executive order under the American Antiquities Act of 1906.