If you are like I am you may be getting a little tired of reading about Roxanne Quimby in your daily newspaper. (You have to hand it to her, though, she sure knows how to get press coverage). You probably are also wishing that this column would devote less ink to her as well. I had planned to refrain myself in this regard, since my opposition to Quimby's Federal Park is obvious to anyone who reads this column regularly. It has been disappointing for me to watch as so many sportsman advocates begin to soften in their earlier opposition to the Quimby quest. A number have fallen under her spell and started tippy toeing down the middle of the road.
Former director of the Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine (SAM), George Smith, has gone out of his way to praise Ms. Quimby for her willingness to seek common ground with Maine citizens, as has Bob Myers, president of the Maine Snowmobilers Association.
This makes recent comments from U.S Senator Olympia Snowe all that more laudable. The Senator's remarks are clear and unequivocal. If you study the national park issue, and make an earnest effort to weigh the pros and cons, a reasonable person has to conclude that there are more reasons to oppose the park than to support it. Up to now, though, no single Big Player has spoken to the issue with such hard-hitting clarity and conviction as Senator Snowe. Here are her comments, as reported recently in the Bangor Daily News:
"A national park would most likely spell the end to the working forest that has provided thousands of jobs to the area's families for generations. Based on Maine's long experience, the real opportunity for conserving and maintaining lands for outdoor recreation such as fishing, hiking, hunting, paddling and snowmobiling, is in working closely with private landowners, not in having the federal government own the land."
Sen. Snow then hit the ball out of the park.
"Authorizing a federal park in Northern Maine would cause a region of the state to be governed by decisions dictated from Washington.," she said.
Really now, does anymore need to be said? Do we need a feasibility study? Do we need more public forums hosted by Roxanne Quimby? Does it matter if Quimby's federal park would bring some service sectors jobs to Northern Maine? Are we so desperate that we are prepared to trade our state sovereignty for any promises?
Federal control of 70,000 acres of Maine timberland and all that that entails, IS the over-arching issue. This is not the same country, nor is it the same Washington, D.C of the Teddy Roosevelt National Parks era. Washington has led us to the edge of a fiscal abyss. There is corruption on an unprecedented scale. With the tentacles of federalism already reaching deeper and deeper into our everyday lives and businesses, why in the world would we want to help Roxanne Quimby usher in a greater federal presence into our state?
Thankfully, Senator Snowe gets it. Maine should commend her for her good instincts, clear vision and straight talk. This is leadership.
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His email address is email@example.com and his new book is “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook.”