Lake deal a fair compromise


V. Paul Reynolds’ mean-spirited and uncompromising attack on the acquisition and protection of Katahdin Lake is a sad spectacle (Dec. 24).

Here, just in time for Christmas, we had a dream come true. It was the dream of Maine’s foremost conservationist, Percival P. Baxter, to include this sparkling, mountain-surrounded lake as part of Baxter State Park.

Baxter envisioned a wilderness park for all the people of Maine, and his legacy has been honored. It boggles the mind that Paul Reynolds fails to understand that vision, or the meaning and value of wilderness.

He also seems to fall short of comprehending a compromise when he sees one. Certainly his political work in Augusta should have taught him that nothing much gets done without compromise.

The Katahdin Lake deal is a compromise. It’s not everything environmentalists wanted, it’s not everything that hunters and trappers and those with off-road motorized vehicles wanted.

By the way, Reynolds seems to have lost sight of the fact that many of us are both hunters and environmentalists, and we don’t believe Baxter Park encroaches on our rights. Part of the Katahdin Lake deal includes provision for hunting in the region, and for acquiring more land open to “traditional” activities such as snowmobiling.

It is a compromise.

It’s worth remembering that historically, a shortsighted Maine Legislature refused to help create the original Baxter Park, and Gov. Baxter had to work alone, unselfishly using his considerable wealth to acquire land. He did this for decades, but never managed to buy Katahdin Lake.

This time around, Gov. Baldacci, conservation officials and the Legislature understood the wisdom of this purchase, which is being accomplished almost entirely with private funds.

The biggest threat to hunting and trapping doesn’t come from land protection but from development pressure. Maine is experiencing a tidal wave of sprawl, and we should cherish whatever small amount of land can be protected from this onslaught.

Environmentalists are doing a lot to preserve the Maine way of life; protecting working farms so they can continue to grow local produce, for example. My town just voted to protect 321 acres of public land through a conservation easement with our local land trust, and we insisted that hunting and snowmobiling be permitted.

There are places where these things should happen, and there are other places that should remain forever wild.

We can have it all, but only if we can work together and focus not just on what divides us, but what we, as Maine people, have in common.

Steve Cartwright, Waldoboro