Conservation interests have been promoting the creation of a national park in Maine’s North Woods for over one hundred years. Past park proposals featured Mt. Katahdin, the Allagash River, and the greater North Woods region, and each inspired fierce debate amongst Mainers. Most recently, Maine’s North Woods have been gripped by a fervent debate surrounding a proposal by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. to create a small national park to the east of Baxter State Park. What can the national park controversies of northern Maine’s past teach us about the most recent debate? In northern Maine, the national park controversies played out predominantly along the lines of class and geography. Further, these social and geographic dynamics manifest through value conflicts that transcend mere economic concerns. However, economic development arguments increasingly dominate the public justifications of both park supporters and opponents, uniquely framing the current debate. The near-exclusive focus on economics in the most recent debate narrows both sides’ collective engagement with the more complex value dynamics that linger below the surface and in some ways carry over from the region’s historical park debates. Adam Auerbach is a 2016 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, where he studied environmental studies and American history. This piece is an abridged version of his honors thesis of the same title, available online at http://scarab.bates.edu/honorstheses/181/. He has held positions as an environmental educator in Colorado employed at Rocky Mountain National Park, Chatfield State Park, and Boulder County Parks and Open Space.
Auerback, Adam. "A Century of National Park Conflict: Class, Geography, and the Changing Values of Conservation Discourse in Maine." Maine History 52, 1 (2018): 76-108. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol52/iss1/6