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A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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New Data: Maine Sees Major Economic Impact from National Parks, Monuments

With the Katahdin Woods and Waters and 26 other national monuments under review, new data shows major economic and employment impacts for Maine. (U.S. Dept. of Interior).
With the Katahdin Woods and Waters and 26 other national monuments under review, new data shows major economic and employment impacts for Maine. (U.S. Dept. of Interior).
July 17, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine – As the Trump administration reviews the fate of dozens of national monuments, new data shows hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs flow to Maine from visits to national parks.

Gov. Paul LePage has been a driving force behind the current review by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. LePage says the state can do a better job preserving the lands than the federal government.

Ken Olson, past president and CEO of Friends of Acadia, says the new data from the congressional Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee shows federally maintained national parks are delivering major economic impact.

"We had 3.3 million visits last year, and that represents hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of people employed in Maine,” he points out. “And there's a multiplier effect into the Maine economy."

The new data indicates outdoor recreation as a whole generated $5.3 billion in consumer spending and $1.5 billion in wages in Maine in 2012.

The Zinke review, which includes Maine's Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument, was called to determine whether there was enough public input in the process and whether the monuments are the right size.

Three of the four members of Maine's congressional delegation support the monuments. Olson says more than 190,000 Mainers filed comments in support and only 67 were opposed.

"This is a hugely supported thing that has happened in Maine, and it's too bad that the governor won't open his mind to understanding what the free market is all about – the free market that is created by the creation of public lands," he states.

Olson says if Mainers want to get an idea what the local economy would be like if the recently designated Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument was downsized, they don't have to look far.

"We got some glimpse of what would happen if these were taken away by looking at the various federal government shutdowns,” he states. “The last one, that affected Acadia National Park, of course, removed over $1 million from the economy – just in the short time that the shutdown occurred. "

The report also found that in rural counties with 100,000 acres of protected public lands, compared with those with none, income per person is higher by more than $4,300.





Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME