January 29, 2023

Why The Baxter Land Swap Shouldn't Happen

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An editorial this morning in the Portland Press Herald exactly points out why the Baxter land swap shouldn’t occur. The editorial hits the nail on the head by showing readers how selfish, elitist, and ignorant of the truth they are, while at the same time blaming those opposed to the land swap of being just that.

The writer calls it a rare “win-win” situation when in fact it is not. At the same time they attempt to paint a picture of how the land around Katahdin Lake is not suited for hunting and snowmobiling.

The principle, apparently, is that they’re fed up with elitists locking off land from traditional users like them. Except that Katahdin Lake offers marginal hunting and has never been popular with snowmobilers.

The writer then goes on to call outdoorsmen and some Legislators shortsighted, pointing out that Maine has more land open to hunting, fishing and snowmobiling than we need.

Forget for a moment that vast stretches of Maine are already open to hunting. Forget that snowmobilers can already sled from Freeport to Rangeley and beyond on their own trails.

Forget that hunters and snowmobilers represent a distinct minority in Maine.

What the author of the article doesn’t see is the obvious, which is what upsets not just hunters but all those who enjoy outdoor recreation. Yes, hunters and snowmobilers are a minority of the total population in Maine but I can guarantee you that outdoor enthusiasts far outnumber the limited few who are allowed to use Baxter State Park each year because of its limited access policies.

What troubles me is by adding 6,000 acres of limited access land to Baxter by removing 7,400 of total access public lands, is defeating the whole purpose in owning public lands. The more I read and see from this entire issue makes me think that this Baxter land swap is being promoted by a special interest group.

If those wishing to add land to Baxter State Park really want to get it done, then it needs to be above board and find a way to purchase the land without having to give up public lands or be willing to open the sought after parcel to all forms of recreation.

It’s very simple. Most people opposed to the swap aren’t willing to give up lands now open for recreation for land that will be closed with limited access.

Tom Remington