George Neavoll, the former editorial pages editor of the Portland Press Herald, has a persuasive new column arguing for the creation of Maine Woods National Park. The idea isn't a new one. In fact a group called RESTORE: The North Woods has been pushing this idea for well over a decade. The concept acquired some urgency in the early 2000s when vast swatches of Maine's northern forest were sold by their longtime landowners (typically Maine-based paper companies) to outside and sometimes foreign investors and developers. Then the issue died down again as environmentalists worked to protect hundreds of thousands of acres under conservation easements. Now the controversy has begun to rage again with Plum Creek Timber's plan, recently approved by the state of Maine, to develop a thousand house lots and create two large resorts on the shores of Moosehead Lake.
Ironically, the prospect of massive resorts going up outside Greenville might be the push the national park needs to finally get going. Plum Creek has mobilized environmentalists to fight even harder against future development, and my guess is that after all the new homes and resorts are built around Greenville, you might see that community welcoming the park idea since being the gateway to a certified natural treasure could pay additional economic dividends. All those new homeowners might actually like the idea of living just outside the Maine Woods National Park, just as the people of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Bozeman, Montana, enjoy their proximity to Yellowstone.