Anyone who follows the news closely should not have been surprised by President Barack Obama’s latest pen stroke: the formal creation of Maine’s new national monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters.

You could see it coming a mile away. Governor Paul LePage’s cynical comment that “the fix was in” was not off the mark.

Don’t get me wrong. Though never a fan of a multi-million acre national park in Maine, I’ve long felt that Roxanne Quimby has had a right to do with her land what she chooses. She came about it honestly, insofar as I know. Gifting her wildlands acreage to Baxter State Park made more sense to me, but apparently to nobody else, including Quimby and the park managers, who seemed to have little enthusiasm for yet another land annexation.

It would be hypocritical of me to say that federalized public lands are not a good thing. I use them to hunt, fish and camp, most especially out West, where federal public lands abound in vastness and scenic splendor. These public lands are a tribute to the vision of Teddy Roosevelt and other American leaders.

Who knows? In the long run perhaps Quimby’s gift of a section of the East Branch area and its once commercial forest will be seen as equally visionary.

What concerns me — and in a big way — is not so much that we now have a National Monument on Maine soil, but rather how it got here, the way it came upon us. What follows is a big word that I had to look up, but it succinctly describes the outrageous process. The word is Kafkaesque.

Novelist Franz Kafka’s work is known for “nightmarish settings in which characters are crushed by blind authority in impersonal administrative situations where the individual feels powerless to understand or control what is happening.”

Public opinion polls aside, the Maine people most affected geographically by this new federalized land windfall were trampled underfoot and never really listened to. Ditto our two most respected congressional leaders, our governor, and many other key Maine organizations and voices that were brushed aside.

A number of monument advocates, including Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, paint a rosy picture, but they do it with cavalier misrepresentations.

St. Clair asserts that the management approach will be “built on Maine values.” Really? Since when is the heavy-handed misuse of wealth and powerful connections a “Maine value?” Certainly not in rural northern Maine.

He also seeks to seduce us with his assurance that the new Monument encompasses a deep respect for “Maine’s outdoor recreation heritage,” or that it acknowledges that “hunting is critical to the economy of northern Maine.” That has a hollow ring. Bear hunting, which is a key economic industry for rural Maine guides and outfitters, is prohibited in all of the monument’s 87,000 acres, and general hunting is allowed in only a small part of that total acreage. Hunters and snowsledders enjoyed vastly more access in the days before Quimby amassed her wealth or owned any Maine land.

This is not the first time that the jackboots of out-of-state wealth and power have swooped in to Maine and stepped on the necks of Maine citizens in an attempt to impose an agenda that reflects the personal values and agendas of that same intrusive big money and big power. The pattern is clear. The bear referendum, which sought to ban bear hunting, was foisted on us by the well-heeled Humane Society of the United States. More than once. This fall Mainers will vote on an anti-gun referendum (Question 3) brought to us by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg. And, of course, the Quimby money bought a monument that was never really born of a popular consensus.

Most astonishing of all are the number of respected leaders of our sporting community who have been successfully seduced, blinded apparently to this New World tyranny from outsiders that has been repeatedly perpetrated upon us compliant, docile Mainers, who were once a proud, ruggedly independent and freedom-loving citizenry.

What ever happened to Dirigo, Maine leads?

Somehow, some way, in this new century, statesmanship and true public service have become scarce commodities. We need to ask: Does representative government really exist anymore? Does the U.S. Constitution any longer safeguard us from the arrogance of power wielded by the Washington autocracy and America’s monied elite?

Kafkaesque, indeed.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has three books .Online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.


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