Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Coordinates: 45°58′13″N 68°37′10″W / 45.970362°N 68.619336°W / 45.970362; -68.619336
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Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Pond Pitch along the East Branch of the Penobscot River
Map showing the location of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Map showing the location of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Map showing the location of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Map showing the location of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
LocationNorth Central Maine, United States
Nearest cityBangor
Coordinates45°58′13″N 68°37′10″W / 45.970362°N 68.619336°W / 45.970362; -68.619336
Area87,563 acres (35,435 ha)
EstablishedMonument: August 24, 2016 (2016-August-24)
Governing bodyNational Park Service
Websitewww.nps.gov/kaww/ Edit this at Wikidata
Mount Katahdin, photographed from the park

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a U.S. national monument spanning 87,563 acres (137 sq mi) of mountains and forestland in northern Penobscot County, Maine, including a section of the East Branch Penobscot River.[1] The monument is located on the eastern border of Maine's Baxter State Park.[2] Native animals include moose, bobcats, bald eagles, salmon, and Canada lynx.[3]


Roxanne Quimby, a co-founder of US company Burt's Bees, and her foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., began purchasing land near Baxter State Park in 2001 before formally announcing their plans in 2011 that the land would one day become part of a national park.[4][5] However, following opposition by state and federal politicians to the creation of a national park, Quimby changed her focus to a national monument, which could be created with a proclamation by the president under the Antiquities Act.[6] On August 23, 2016, Elliotsville Plantation and the Quimby Family Foundation donated the land (valued at $60 million), plus $20 million to fund initial operations and a commitment of $20 million in future support, to the federal government.[7] On August 24, 2016, the eve of the National Park Service centennial, President Barack Obama proclaimed 87,563 acres (137 sq mi) of land as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.[8]

In December, 2020, the Park Service received funding to purchase an additional 3,000–4,000 acres (4.7–6.3 sq mi) of land.[9]



Initially, many people opposed the monument, with some concerned about federal intrusion into the lands of Northern Maine. One of the most vocal opponents to the creation of the national monument was Paul LePage, who became the state's Governor in January 2011. He called the monument "unilateral action against the will of the people, this time the citizens of rural Maine."[10]

It was suggested that President Donald Trump could act to reverse the creation of the monument, a move local opponents wanted him to consider. Trump was critical of the monument's creation during 2016 campaign appearances in Maine. Supporters of the monument called the potential abolition a "destructive step".[11] United States Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, did not recommend to President Trump in a December 2017 report for the monument to be shrunk or its creation reversed, instead advising that the monument's management and development plans be slightly changed.[12] Trump ultimately did not make any changes to the monument.


Local polling showed that a majority of local residents and businesses supported the monument's creation as a driver of economic opportunity in a region with decreasing industry.[10] Many local business owners have since praised the order. A 2021 National Park Service report showed that visitors to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in 2020 spent $2.7 million in communities near the park, with a cumulative local economic benefit of $3.3 million.[13]

Before the designation, U.S. Senators from Maine, Angus King and Susan Collins, wrote a letter to President Obama outlining “serious reservations” about the proposal.[14] Their opinions evolved into great support in years since.

In 2022, Senator King introduced a bill cosponsored by Senator Collins to expand the National Monument.[15]

Human settlements[edit]

Human settlement in the region dates back 11,000 years, with Native peoples having relied on the woods and its waterways for their livelihood and even transportation. The Penobscot Indian Nation, along with other Wabanaki tribes, still regard the Penobscot River as an important landmark of their culture.

The first recorded European exploration of the region occurred in 1793 with a survey commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, of which Maine was still a part. Shortly after statehood in 1820, the Maine government began surveying the lands around the current national monument. For over 100 years, from the early 18th century to the late 19th century, logging was the primary industry in the area.

The Maine Woods were made famous by the writings of Henry David Thoreau in the 1850s, and later saw such visitors as Theodore Roosevelt and Maine Governor Percival Baxter, who later designated the lands to the immediate west of the national monument to become Baxter State Park.[16]


The bedrock of Katahdin Woods and Waters spans over 150 million years of the Paleozoic era, revealing well-intact exposures of Paleozoic rock strata with visible fossils. In the lands west of the Penobscot River's East Branch, volcanic rock from the Devonian period, mostly Katahdin granite and some Traveler rhyolite, is prevalent. The oldest rock in the monument, a light greenish-gray quartzite and slate from the early Cambrian period, which is 500 million years old, can be observed along the riverbank of East Branch at Grand Pitch (a river rapid). This rock is part of the Weeksboro-Lunksoos Lake anticline, a wide upward fold of rocks, evidence of mountain-building tectonics common to that part of the state.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fact Sheet: President Obama Designates National Monument in Maine's North Woods in Honor of the Centennial of the National Park Service". whitehouse.gov (Press release). White House Office of the Press Secretary. August 24, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2016 – via National Archives.
  2. ^ "Obama signs order to create national monument in Maine's North Woods". Portland Press Herald. August 24, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (August 24, 2016). "Obama Designates National Monument in Maine, to Dismay of Some". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  4. ^ Young, Susan (July 10, 2001). "Maine land purchased with eye on U.S. Park". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Sambides Jr., Nick (July 18, 2011). "Roxanne Quimby says national park would create tourism jobs". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Miller, Kevin (November 29, 2015). "A national park or a national monument? North Woods groups shift focus". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  7. ^ Sambides Jr., Nick (August 23, 2016). "Roxanne Quimby transfers 87,000 acres planned for national monument to US government". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  8. ^ Higgins, A.J. "It's Official: Obama Declares Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument" (August 24, 2016). Maine Public Broadcasting.
  9. ^ Miller, Kevin (December 13, 2020). "Potential expansion opportunity for Katahdin Woods and Waters". Press Herald. Portland, Maine. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Valencia, Milton J. (August 28, 2016). "Opinions still split on tourism in Katahdin woods region". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Miller, Kevin (November 12, 2016). "Could Trump undo the new Katahdin-area national monument?". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  12. ^ "Trump's interior secretary recommends against changes at Maine monument". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  13. ^ Patten, Mailing Address: PO Box 446; Us, ME 04765 Phone: 207-456-6001 Contact. "Tourism to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument creates $3.3 million in Economic Benefits - Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved August 15, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ https://www.latimes.com/people/associated-press (August 24, 2016). "Maine land donated by Burt's Bees founder is new national monument". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  15. ^ "King Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Katahdin Woods and Waters |". www.king.senate.gov. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument". whitehouse.gov. August 24, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2016 – via National Archives.

External links[edit]