Katahdin Lake land swap approved by Legislature

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AUGUSTA – Gov. Percival Baxter’s dream is just about to come true.

On Thursday, the Maine House enacted a bill to complete the Katahdin Lake land swap that will allow the parcel to become part of Baxter State Park. The vote was 129 to 16.

The Senate followed suit, approving the deal 32 to 3.

The lake, which offers sweeping views of Mount Katahdin and has served as a place where artists would find inspiration and conservationists like the late President Teddy Roosevelt would hunt and fish, was part of Baxter’s original vision for the sprawling park that bears his name.

The land-swap-bill approval follows lengthy debate and negotiation among landowners, recreationists, hunters, snowmobilers and other stakeholders both in the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee and in the full House and Senate.

“Governor Baxter gave a gift to the people of Maine that has remained, and probably always will remain, unmatched,” said House Speaker John Richardson after Thursday’s vote. “Tonight, nearly 85 years since Governor Baxter first began his personal quest to preserve the land around Katahdin, we have given the people of Maine the opportunity to see Baxter’s wish to have Katahdin Lake included in the park he gave to the people of Maine. There is still work to be done, the Friends of Baxter State Park must fulfill their end of deal with their fundraising effort, but I am hopeful that Baxter’s vision will be completed.”

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