Members of the Trump administration are in northern Maine this week, touring a newly formed national monument near Mount Katahdin.
President Donald Trump has directed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review 27 national monuments, including the Katahdin Woods and Waters, to determine if former presidents followed the Antiquities Act when they made those designations.
Governor Paul LePage, a fierce critic of the Katahdin monument, urged President Trump to include it in his list of sites to be reviewed.
In August, Secretary Zinke will submit a recommendation for the monuments, and has signaled that he supports keeping the Katahdin Woods and Waters publicly owned. He said Thursday he may even recommend Congress take steps to make it a National Park.
"It's beautiful country, with enormous potential," said Zinke.
The former landowners donated the land to the federal government, in the hopes it would become a national park. Lucas St. Clair, a spokesman for the family, said it would bring much-needed jobs to the area, that has suffered since paper mills went out of business.
But Governor LePage isn’t convinced that the Katahdin region will become a tourist destination. He told a Congressional committee that the growth in Maine is along the coast, not in “mosquito land.”
The Katahdin region got recent publicity when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife vacationed there, and met with local business owners.
Many in the business community have voiced their support for the national monument, or national park, but some residents agree with the Governor and are fearful of federal control.
LePage said he would like to prioritize timber harvesting and economic development in the area.
Zinke said he wants to include local and state perspectives in the management of the land.
"I this solution should be made in Maine, not made in Washington," said Zinke.
The Secretary’s next stop is expected to be in Massachusetts, where he will review another controversial monument: the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off of Cape Cod.