As the end of the peak summer holiday season approaches, fall adventures await those who enjoy cooler temperatures and fewer cars on the roads (and in the parking lots). Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has been bustling with activity this summer in a wonderful way. Read on for updates from Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, philanthropic partner of the National Park Service (NPS).
Incidentally, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) is a sponsor of the 6e Katahdin Woods and Waters birthday celebration, and it’s not too late to get your ticket for the party on Saturday August 27 in Millinocket.
our latest Front line voice The podcast is about Katahdin Woods and Waters, as we speak with the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Acting Executive Director, Sam Deeran. To agree:
Officially gifted to the NPS by the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters late last summer, the five individual campsites and two group campsites at Lunksoos Historic Camps opened for their first full season this year.
The sites provide a camping experience that those familiar with national parks will recognize: bear-proof boxes and sturdy picnic tables at each site, smooth gravel paths for the short walk from the car to installation and ADA facilities (including one site).
Lunksoos tent sites are easy to book on recreation.govas well as several other campsites accessible by car, canoe or both!
Youth and Community Engagement
At six years old, the National Monument is quite young in our national park system! However, in those few years, the benefits to communities in the Katahdin region have been significant and far-reaching.
This year, the place-based education program within Friends celebrates nearly 10,000 youth experiences in the Monument, classrooms and community since 2017. The field trips that take local school children into the woods and Katahdin waters are so popular that Friends have added new staff to meet growing demand.
Teachers and outdoor educators create additional impact by accessing programs just for them. Friends has partnered with local organizations to offer annual Leave No Trace trainer courses and teacher camps offering practical skills at low or no cost to participants.
Committed to learning together
The land we call Katahdin Woods and Waters is within the traditional territory of the Penobscot Nation and sits at a sacred crossroads for the Wabanaki people who have been stewards of this landscape for over 13,000 years.
Through a partnership with a Wabanaki Advisory Council, Friends has co-produced New Moon Teachings to center Wabanaki voices, stories and perspectives in shaping narratives about the national monument and related landscapes. The series ended in January this year, but the opportunity to learn more about cultural traditions and contemporary issues prompted Friends and NPS staff, as well as supporters and community members, to engage further in the “decolonization” of how stories about the Monument lands and waters are shared.
Follow Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters on social media or subscribe to their enews they will again offer the Wabanaki REACH Training Interact with Wabanaki-Maine history up to 150 people free of charge in 2023.
New Superintendent and NPS Growth
The Katahdin Woods and Waters community welcomed Superintendent Sheldon “Mark” Wimmer to the area in January! Mark most recently served as Monument Manager for the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, where he led the improvement and creation of infrastructure and facilities to enhance the visitor experience.
Mark joined talented and dedicated staff at KAWW (the official acronym for NPS) who developed interpretive resources, built and improved trails, collected scientific data, and cared for park facilities and visitors.
Friends staff are proud of recent achievements in the growing relationship with partners; they recently purchased a new CAT excavator for trail work and have been developing lesson plans with NPS interpretive staff to begin a new year of Monument field trips. As visitation and support increases, expect great improvements in access, wayfinding and resource protection at the Monument.
Stay up to date on live news from the NPS at https://www.nps.gov/kaww/index.htm
Legislation introduced to expand access
Supporters of the national monument hailed the August 2022 introduction of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act (Senate Bill 4784), legislation introduced by Maine Senator Angus King and co-sponsored by Senator Susan Collins.
We thank Senator Collins and Senator King for their leadership. They have worked together to create bipartisan legislation that is good for the national monument, surrounding communities and the visiting public.
The bill would adjust the southern boundary of the monument to allow for the acquisition of land from a willing and interested vendor or donor, with a focus on improving access to Katahdin Woods National Monument and Waters from the south, including from the communities of Millinocket, East Millinocket and Medway.
In addition, the NPS would be permitted to purchase or lease facilities for a park headquarters, staff offices, and visitor services outside the monument boundaries. NRCM, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters and others look forward to opportunities to improve access from the Millinocket area.
As one of the groups that worked closely with the local community to establish KWW, NRCM is thrilled to see the Monument grow and improve so much in six years, which would not be possible without the exceptional work of Friends and NPS leadership. . We hope that after reading this update, you’ll be inspired to add a Monument trip to your fall weekend lineup!
—by Melanie Sturm, MRNC Director of Forests and Wildlife