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New national monument in Maine could become next large park

Obama just turned a huge stretch of Maine woods into federal parkland

Just before the National Park Service’s 100th birthday today, President Obama made a controversial move that would honor the agency in a real, big way: he designated a huge expansive of Maine woods as the newest national monument.

The decision comes after years of fiery conflict between locals who want to save the land for regional business opportunities and those in the camp of Burt’s Bees co-founder and owner of the land, Roxanne Quimby, who has long wanted to turn the property into a national park. The opposition, which also included the governor and Maine’s congressional delegation, was so strong that Obama resorted to using his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to immediately name the land a national monument rather than a national park, which would require Congressional approval.

At 87,500 acres, the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument surpasses Acadia, Maine’s only national park so far, by almost 80 percent in size. Acadia, in fact, began as the Sieur de Monts National Monument, which was established by President Woodrow Wilson almost exactly 100 years ago.

As the Washington Post notes, this newly protected area of Maine is home to lynx, bears, brook trout and moose and is "one of the only places on the East Coast where rare bird species like gray jays, boreal chickadees and the American three-toed woodpecker can be spotted." Read the full story here.