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The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument


Canada lynx by Michael Zahra

On August 24, 2016, President Obama announced his designation of a national monument in Maine’s north woods: The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument!

This is wonderful news for Maine, and in particular for our state’s wildlife, as it provides permanent protection to many species that rely on the unique north woods habitat, the largest contiguous temperate forest in the eastern United States. This designation also holds great promise for the region’s economy, and reinforces traditional conservation values that are important to Maine and the nation.

Thanks to the Quimby family for making this incredible gift to the American people, and to President Obama for making this historic designation that will protect this ecological and cultural treasure!

The benefits of this new national monument to wildlife include protection for:

  • Riparian habitat along more than 30 miles of rivers and streams plus at least 7 ponds, which are used by 85% of Maine vertebrates for feeding, nesting, resting, and traveling alongside streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and wetlands.
  • Habitat for over 75 species of birds, including migratory forest birds that depend on this internationally significant area as their primary breeding habitat.
  • Extensive wetlands, including Inland Waterfowl and Wading Bird Habitat designated as “Significant Wildlife Habitat” by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
  • Critical habitat for the federally endangered Canada lynx.
  • Critical and important fish habitat  – especially for wild eastern brook trout and endangered Atlantic salmon.
  • Nine rare Natural Communities identified by the Maine Natural Areas Program.
  • Several rare aquatic species that require clean cold water, including species of freshwater mussel, dragonfly, and turtle.

The unique location of the national monument creates even more benefits for the region. It will become an important landscape connector, linking with other conservation lands including Baxter State Park, the International Appalachian Trail, the Debsconeag Wilderness, the 100-mile Wilderness, and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. This is especially important as Maine faces a changing climate, since the connected diversity of landforms and habitats will allow species to migrate to higher elevations or further north as needed.

With this designation, more people than ever will have an opportunity to visit, explore, learn from, and appreciate the amazing ecology of Maine. Maine Audubon celebrates this significant milestone as we work together with conservation organizations and our members to build a culture of stewardship for Maine’s wildlife and habitat.