Roxanne Quimby Purchase Threatening Katahdin Land Deal

Friday, September 15, 2006

Burt's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby has purchased from timber company H.C. Haynes/Crawford approximately 23,000 acres between Baxter State Park and the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Plans for the land are not known but could call in to question the public access to parcels involved in the recent Katahdin Lake deal between the state and Gardner Land Company.

The Katahdin Lake deal would attach about 4,000 acres surrounding Katahdin Lake to Baxter State Park plus another 2,000 acres, where hunting and snowmobiling would be allowed and managed by the Maine Department of Conservation. The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and the Maine Snowmobile Association contend that Quimby's purchase should change the terms of the Katahdin Lake deal.

Like other land purchased by Quimby, the property – which was reportedly purchased for $10 million, likely will be off-limits to hunters, trappers, snowmobiles and ATVs. Maine sportsmen and Millinocket-area officials are concerned that Quimby and other conservationists are harming rural Maine by closing land to hunting and other traditional uses, further limiting the economic growth potential of the sparsely populated Katahdin region, which already has about half its population at or below the poverty line and an unemployment rate double the state average.

Millinocket officials have expressed concern about the potential loss of land for new ATV and snowmobile trails that would help support the local economy.

Not wanting state money spent on a parcel that would be inaccessible to traditional users, SAM has suggested that all 6,000 acres of the lake parcel be annexed into Baxter and the state use the public money to buy hunting, snowmobile and ATV land elsewhere.