I have a particular interest in your cause which I learned more about while watching the Channel 10 MPBN show today at 5:00 pm. I am staying at an extended family camp located at Rangeley Maine until the 3rd. of Oct. This is how I have come to see the above show, and to share my thoughts with you.
Most importantly I completely agree that turning the area designated into a new "National Park" will gradually impact your beautiful woods quite negatively, and erase the true and historic partnering of private ownership of such land in Maine and the quality of care of the forests that has been going on. The forests have been available to "us" for many years through private camps providing hunters, campers, hikers and other outdoors women and men. I am one.
Please let me share my personal experience and observation and thoughts with you.
In 2004, from May to November I was able to pursue a dream I had had for years, but was unable as a mom of two girls and a wife of a wonderful man until that Spring. I was hired as a Work Camper to live and manage the Silver Lake-Falls of Lana Campgrounds and Lake which is located in the Mossalamoo National Recreation Area of the Green Mt. National Forest in Vermont.
From the very beginning I recognized something: there was a great deal of advertising and promoting for individuals to visit, explore, hike, bike, camp and mountain climb in this area. NOT, and I say this with great sadness and concern, the availability, emphasis and requirement that people who visited and used this place to do their thing, care for it, and for themselves!!
I could go on and on, but I will point out some problems. First, we are a selfish society, we are not brought up like our native people to be stewards for our land, and that is a fact. I would see paths that opened in the spring, and made by our woodland animals, turn in to overused and trashed eroded trails even when signs were set to "Hike Only on Designated Trails".
People refuse to believe that dogs not only do harm to the wilderness, but get lost and find critters, that folks no matter how many times you warn them, they haven't listened or respected your request. They walk past you, you remind them to keep their dogs on a leash, then the next thing you know their dog is off the leash and lost.
We were not allowed to give campers wood for their fires, and the Forest Service didn't have the money or staff, or facility to provide that service any way. People would cut tree after tree, move fire pits, and set fires anywhere they wanted.
When I was not on duty to clean outhouses, and maintain campsites and connecting trails, this was not maintained by our seasonal rangers because simply, they didn't have the staff to do it. Nor did they want to do such insignificant work!
Campers and hikers are told to carry out their trash and garbage, but the reality was the campers would leave their trash.
"Leave NO Trace" is a great idea, but the truth is the more people, the less concern and care of our wilderness.
Hasn't the problem of the overuse of our National Forests and Parks already been established as a very big problem? I know I have seen it on National Geographic and on the news.
What do the people running the other parks and national forest areas in Maine say? I can not believe these places are managed sufficiently and effectively with the resources they have. The argument for more National Parks Land and Forest Land is jobs, that is all. More administrative jobs, more support service jobs, but jobs don't last as we know. Once we open and encourage more usage, what about management in an economy like this. How many jobs have either been lost or not filled in the forest or park service because of our economic times.
I believe an example in California, if I am correct, is their closing many parks this year because they can not afford to keep them open. If we open and invite more use, to think we can effectively close the "forest" in our economic down times is absurd. People will still use the forests .
I wish I could do more for your cause. I have a special interest in the North Woods. I understand I have relatives still living in Millinocket. A most interesting thing is that for many years I have been drawn to that area, and have particularly pinpointed Millinocket as a place I have wanted to visit. I have been for many years interested in logging history, and in the Native Indian History of the North Woods.
In the early '80's my husband and I moved to the country of upstate NY. I never understood the plight of the country farmer, and I have been disturbed in what I have seen in Vermont and the Adirondacks of the take over of these quaint, country family towns by wealthy vacationers, realtors and commercial investors. I would hate to think, even though I have never been to Millinocket, what would happen if more of our government opened up and advocated for more people to use the "North Woods".
Please accept my true concern and support to keep what is left of the Old Maine...the Old Maine!!
I am sure I have been of little help, but every individual makes for a louder voice.
- October 2009