As if there aren’t enough contentious issues going around these days, here’s another one that people get all riled up about– The proposed National Park in northern Maine. I found this on the Trailspace blog yesterday, and it laid out the issue pretty well, as far as I’m concerned.
Like so many things in the news these days, the National Park issue is pretty much guaranteed to piss off just about anyone you talk to about it. All the hotheadedness gets on my nerves. I’ve heard people get all kinds of angry about this issue, to the point where they start sounding like those death-panel-crazies at the Healthcare debates a few years ago. Let’s take a look at this.
A lot of the arguments against the idea of a National Park boil down to locals saying “Northern Maine is far off the beaten track, and part of its allure is that it’s so remote and unvisited compared to the rest of the state, and especially other states.” Another big part of the argument, which is repeated frequently in the MaineWatch segment, is “we don’t trust the national government!” I won’t even get into the latter argument, as there’s way too much there to rant about, and I’d like to keep this non-political. The former argument is the one that merits more debate, I think.
In many ways, I agree that one of the most amazing things about Maine is how wild it is. You can go up to Baxter Park, adjacent to the proposed National Park, and for most of the trip there you’ll feel like you’re in another world. Settlement is so sparse, and the wilderness just crushes in on you. We need more places like that in the modern world. The White Mountains of New Hampshire are wild, but even in the National Forest Wilderness areas there you won’t feel as far away from the bustle of modern life as you do even at a developed campground in the North Woods. I would hate to see throngs of photo-happy tourists fill every open space in the area and make it seem like just another roadside attraction. Or seeing all that comes along with major tourist traffic– the “family fun” parks, the legions of cheap motels, the gimmicky gift shops. If tourist traffic grows, so do all the ugly parts of a tourist economy.
But if keeping that part of Maine secluded from the rest of the world comes at the cost of greater than 20% unemployment, is it really worth it? The logging industry just isn’t going to come back and save the region’s economy, like many seem to hope it will. And even if it would, the area is still a national treasure, so why not set aside a part of it for more conservation and more tourism?
I’ll cut this here to keep it from devolving into a rant, because that’s the only place it’ll likely go. The way things look now, it doesn’t seem like the National Park idea will even succeed, but I say what’s the harm in dreaming it up? There are upsides and downsides to the idea, as with any idea, but there are also upsides and downsides to doing nothing. I’d certainly like to see more of a eco-tourism economy in Maine, although I know it would come with things that I dislike. I used to be somewhat for and somewhat against the whole idea, but as I see it now, I think it would be a fine idea. Go for it.
I’d love to hear others’ comments, but keep it civil, please. And relevant.