The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act: Frequently Asked Questions

In early August 2022, Maine Senators Angus King and Susan Collins jointly introduced a bill to allow for the growth of one of Maine’s most important conservation areas: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Maine Audubon is a proud supporter of the monument, which protects habitat for Canada Lynx, Moose, and hundreds of species of birds.

There have been a few questions about what exactly this bill does (and doesn’t do), and what happens now that it’s introduced. We’re here to help.

What Is the Bill?

Senate Bill 4784, The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act.

What Does the Bill Do?

If enacted, this bill would: 

  • Allow the National Park Service to acquire land from willing sellers to improve access to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, with a focus on the towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket, located just south of the Monument.
  • Grant the National Park Service authority to purchase or lease facilities for park headquarters, staff offices, and visitor services outside the boundary of the Monument. 

Does This Bill Add Land to the Monument?

No. This bill would not cause any land to change hands. This bill would only create the opportunity for the National Park Service to acquire certain parcels of land from willing sellers. Those parcels, totaling approximately 43,000 acres, are located south of the Monument and would improve access to the Monument from the towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket. The parcels are included in this bill because their owners specifically requested that their lands be included within the Monument boundary. 

Why Add Lands to the Monument?

Access from the south has been a goal of the Monument since its creation, as it puts visitors within easy reach of amenities in Millinocket and East Millinocket, helping those communities see more of the direct, positive economic impact of the Monument. In 2021, the National Park Service estimated that the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument brought $3.3 million and 41,000 visitors into the region. 

The Monument and the parcels referenced in this bill are also an integral part of Maine’s North Woods, which is the largest unfragmented forest east of the Mississippi and provides some of the best remaining wildlife habitat this side of the Rockies. The area is home to iconic wildlife, including Moose, Canada Lynx, Black Bear, and more than one hundred species of migratory birds. Conserving this area is critical to maintaining biodiversity and the habitats species will need as their ranges shift, due to climate change. The designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has brought national attention to this nationally significant area. Increased visitation will increase public interest and appreciation for Maine’s North Woods.

What Happens Now?

There will likely be a bill hearing before the National Parks Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Maine Audubon will be in touch ahead of the hearing to help show our support for the bill. 

How Can I Help?

This bill could help protect remarkable habitat in Maine’s North Woods, but only if it passes. There are a number of ways you can help, including by thanking Senator King and Senator Collins for introducing the bill. You can also help by visiting Katahdin Woods and Waters. It’s an incredible area in all seasons, and in addition to providing wildlife-watching opportunities, is a haven for cross-country skiers, hikers, canoers, snowmobilers, and anyone who wants to take in some breathtaking Maine scenery.