Newsflash: Maine Gov Agrees to Allow Signs to Katahdin Woods and Waters

Getting to Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is about to get a little easier.

Following a year-and-a-half delay, the state says it plans to install road signs directing visitors to the 87,000-square-acre area in the northern part of the state.

It’s an about face for Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who previously opposed installing roadway signs for the monument while the U.S. Department of the Interior conducted a review 27 national monuments at the behest of President Donald Trump. LePage has strongly opposed the creation of the monument and lobbied for it’s reversal.

But months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has signed off on keeping Katahdin Woods and Rivers unaltered, LePage has given in and is allowing the signs. A spokeswoman for LePage told Maine Public the state Department of Transportation is now working with the National Park Service to “expedite the production and installation of signs” and says they could be appear on roadways by summer.

It’s good news for business advocates who say the absence of road signs directing visitors to the monument has slowed the flow of tourists to the area.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in having missed the turnoff to go up to the monument on Route 11 because there is no signage,” Wendy Sairio, director of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, told Maine Public. “And there’s no signage on the highway off of I-95, for exit 244 or 264, either one of which will take you to the loop road of the monument.”

Last year, a team of Maine-born photographers and filmmakers journeyed to the new monument to complete a 5-day 64-mile circumnavigation of the park, documenting it for the film, Monumental:

In a March 28 letter to the state DOT commissioner, Superintendent of Katahdin Woods and Waters Tim Hudson requested that six signs for the monument be placed on Interstate 95, as well as 11 more on state roads in Medway, Sherman, Patten, and Island Falls. It was the second request Hudson made for road signs.

A spokesman for the DOT told Portland news station ABC 8 the agency is still working to determine where the signs will be placed and that no official timetable has been given.

While national parks must be created by Congress, a national monument can be established by presidential proclamation, as was the case in August 2016 when former President Barack Obama authorized the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters. Located in Penobscot County just east of Baxter State Park, the monument was established with the help of Roxanne Quimby, a cofounder of Burt’s Bees. Quimby donated an estimated $60 million worth land for the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters.

With views of the state’s tallest peak, Mount Katahdin, and a myriad of recreation opportunities, the monument welcomed some 30,000 visitors during its first year of operation. That number could now increase with the added visibility that road signs with provide.