Don’t worry about those decisive losses in East Millinocket and Medway, columnist Douglas Rooks tells supporters of a proposed national park. The concerns of local residents, 228 Maine businesses that employ more than 5,000 people in good-paying jobs, and the state’s $8 billion forest products industry are “almost silly,” Rooks wrote.

Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King and Rep. Bruce Poliquin were simply “wrong,” he added, to say that, “robust local support is essential for the success of any new endeavor.”

He advises Roxanne Quimby to take a shortcut around all that wrong thinking and aim for a national monument. “And here’s the thing about national monuments, as opposed to parks,” Rooks wrote. “They’re created by the president. No one else has any say.”

Amazingly, Rooks thinks that’s a good thing.

When President Barack Obama designated three national monuments in July, his tally increased to 19, more than any previous president. Still, if Obama looks beyond the hype — as those underrated locals in Maine have — he’ll quickly realize this is just a misguided, misleading attempt to provide Quimby with a legacy that even her vast fortune can’t buy.

Quimby failed to win over local residents despite a massive public relations campaign and large donations to environmental and community groups, such as the Friends of Baxter State Park, the Millinocket Trail’s End Festival and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Her plan to donate her land — not 150,000 acres, but only 87,500 — to the federal government has been marketed primarily as a way to create jobs. But no one believes the study she commissioned, which said her park might attract 15 percent of Acadia’s 2.5 million annual visitors — 375,600 — creating 451 jobs. That’s six times as many as next-door neighbor Baxter State Park averaged (63,000) the past decade. Baxter employs just 21 full-time and 40 seasonal workers on its 200,000-plus acres. All told, Baxter sustains the equivalent of 87 full-time jobs, a University of Maine study concluded.

A national monument certainly would attract fewer visitors and provide even fewer jobs, while provoking the same concerns about the way federal lands grow in size, scope and restrictions on activities within their boundaries and on adjacent areas.

For example, why do our national parks burn? Glacier National Park has been blazing since July 21, with thousands of acres consumed. Parks burn because the park service’s policy says, “Fire is a beneficial force necessary to ensure forest succession.” If fires occur naturally, they’re allowed to burn unless they threaten communities or human lives. Do we want that policy in northern Maine’s working forest?

Park opponents recently asked Quimby to abandon her proposed park saying, “This is a region with incredible assets and huge potential, but unless you end your quest, the prospect of a national park or some other version of federal control, such as a national monument, will hang over the region like a dark cloud, scaring off the investment the region needs and deserves.”

The uncertainty could last a long time, if not forever. The most recent national park — Pinnacles in California — became a monument in 1908, but wasn’t designated a park until 2013.

Quimby should recognize her “big idea” is a bad idea, and she’s too late to claim a legacy by creating a park in the Maine woods. That honor already belongs to Gov. Percival Baxter, who built Baxter Park around Katahdin — the “crowning glory” of the region. Without Katahdin, the proposed national park has nothing significant to attract tourists.

Gov. Baxter knew that decades ago. In a 1937 letter, he said a National Park Service representative “told me that unless the Federal Government could secure Baxter State Park, the Park Service would have no interest in the Katahdin region. He said that the mountain is the one feature in that region that interested them and that the Park would be located there only if the mountain was its chief attraction. When I told him that I would not to consent to the state’s violating its trust, he assured me that the matter would be dropped.”

Despite her wealth, Roxanne Quimby can never supersede or overshadow Gov. Baxter’s legacy, which was achieved in a way that Mainers can applaud.

Jim Robbins is president and owner of Robbins Lumber in Searsmont.

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