By Jonathan Milne
For many years, I was a field ranger in Baxter Park and had the rare privilege to be able to wander over a good portion of the land there. Much of the travel off trail led to some areas seldom seen by the visiting public. The Wassataquiok Stream area is one of those areas that linger with you for many years after visiting. Its source is high on the northwest flank of Katahdin in an even less visited portion of this great park, the Klondike.
It has been said that the eastern border lands, including Katahdin Lake and the Wassataquoik Valley were originally part of the “master plan” as devised by Governor Baxter. For reasons we may never know, these lands became secondary to other parcels of land for acquisition. Unfortunately, the stream and valley are now ironically in the hands of one of the largest liquidation harvesting firms in Maine. Their “master plan” includes bridging the Wassataquiok near Orin Falls to access timber northwest of the stream. It could be argued that this is one of the last truly “wild streams” in this state. With the potential bridge project application now with LURC (Land Use Regulation Commission), it seems likely that the project will get the go-ahead.
The point I labor towards, thoughtful reader, is the lack of voice from those directly affected by the liquidation harvest and bridge project….all of us. With harvesters hungrily approaching the eastern border of the park with new roads, inevitable increased public access, new camp lots, etc…..the state needs to be very active with promoting sustainable and sensible protection on the border lands of this great park.
Here the rumble in the ground now. Yes indeed….former governor Baxter must be turning in his grave to hear liquidation harvesters active on the border. Next time you have a minute, call LURC and oppose the bridging of the Wassataquiok, and tactfully….or not….tell them that the people of the state of Maine expect the same level of commitment and protection for the park as Governor Baxter originally envisioned. We only have one Baxter Park!
Email nick [at] noumbrella [dot] com with your questions, comments and concerns.
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