Studies Backed by Quimby Foundation Show Economic Benefit of New National Park
Two studies commissioned by a foundation set up by conservationist Roxanne Quimby suggest a national park in the Northern Maine woods would bring an economic boost to the area. Elliotsville Plantation is considering donating more than 70,00 acres to create a national park, near Baxter State Park. The head of the group, Lucas St. Clair, who’s Quimby’s son, says the reports suggest that when it comes to economic development, communities near national parks outpace the national average.The studies looked at 16 places in the U.S. similar to Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. Those places all have a national park, a recreation area, or a combination of both. The reports suggestion an area like that in Maine would create 450 to 1,000 high-paying jobs. St. Clair says, “We’re not saying that a national park is the answer and it’s the silver bullet to change a challenged economy. But it is a helpful tool and could be a way to diversify the economy.”Matt Polstein, the owner of New England Outdoor Center, says, “The report in looking peers across the country, on average, suggests those parks created 1,000 local jobs. 1,000 local jobs in Millinocket would be the holy grail. I think if we had a small fraction of that everybody would notice a positive difference.”St. Clair says the reports were also reviewed and approved by leading Maine economists. Quimby’s proposal for a northern Maine park has drawn mixed opinions and even opposition from community leaders in Millinocket and East Millinocket. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Snowmobile Association and the Maine Forest Products Council have previously come out against the plan, too.The National Park Service has taken no formal stance.