AUGUSTA (AP) – A working group that is expected to follow up on a land deal expanding Baxter State Park convened Monday and immediately took up a more recent development – a 25,000 acre purchase nearby by conservationist Roxanne Quimby.

Members of the ad hoc group brought together by Gov. John Baldacci were careful to note that the new acquisition reported by state officials involved private entities, but called the sale disappointing for advocates of hunting, snowmobiling and some other recreational activities.

According to Conservation Department officials, Quimby’s Elliotsville Plantation bought property within Township 3, Range 8 and Township 2, Range 8 east of the park from a landowner listed as H.C. Haynes/Crawford.

“We’re very concerned about it,” Conservation Department Commissioner Patrick McGowan, who presided over Monday’s meeting, told members of the working group.

But even as the group opened discussions about possible options for maintaining access to land the state has lined up, officials said Quimby has not been reachable in recent days, and that her plans for the land she just purchased are not known.

There was no answer at a phone number for Quimby in Winter Harbor.

The new Quimby acquisition, McGowan wrote in a recent letter to lawmakers, “confirms the fears of many, who have witnessed the rapidly changing ownership landscape in the Maine woods, and it certainly confirms the need for us to work together to secure vital public recreation opportunities for the people of Maine.”

Last spring’s Katahdin Lake deal, which followed three years of planning, was designed to attach about 4,000 acres surrounding Katahdin Lake to Baxter State Park. Another 2,000 acres, where hunting and snowmobiling will be allowed, will be managed by the Maine Department of Conservation.

The wilderness area within Baxter State Park contains Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

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