May 27, 2019

The North Maine Woods Ain’t What it Used to Be

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George Smith, outdoor writer and activist, shares with his readers that visitors to the North Maine Woods has increase for some activities and decreased for others. Al Cowperthwaite, the manager of the North Maine Woods (NMW), says the numbers he provided Smith “is pretty raw data which is interesting but I caution using it to come to any conclusions.” What’s to conclude? Visits are what visits are. (Yeah I know. That sounds stupid.)

While it appears that some hunting activities have seen increases over the years, deer hunting has disappeared (no surprises there) but there is one observation that should be made. (Note: This is not a “conclusion”. Only an observation.)

So, where have the declines in visitor days come? From some surprising places. Think eco-tourism.

Visitors days by canoeists have steadily declined from 23,850 in 1999 to a shockingly low 4,755 in 2012. Given that this region includes the storied Allagash, this is hard to believe. I remember the bitter battle over attempts by some interests to reduce access to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Turns out they had nothing to worry about. While access remains at most of the traditional places, visitors have abandoned the AWW in droves.

Considering that much of the “greenies” say we need more wilderness spaces, perhaps the question begs to be asked, “For what?”

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