WHO ARE THE LOCAL BUSINESSES, LANDOWNERS, AND OFFICIALS SUPPORTING FURTHER STUDY OF A NEW HIGH PEAKS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE?
In 2012, High Peaks Alliance quietly discussed the refuge possibility with individual community leaders. To date, no local leaders have expressed opposition to the project and many see the value in moving forward with the public scoping, planning and assessment process.
Our recent experience generating support for the 2012 Orbeton Stream Forest Legacy project demonstrates that a wide range of local businesses and civic groups enthusiastically support land conservation. Franklin County voters consistently approve Land for Maine’s Future bonds by a strong majority (60% in the most recent 2012 election), and this voter support is strongest in the northern towns that are most dependent on the recreation and forest products industries. But unlike most land conservation projects, this one will require a public planning process before the land conservation can be completed.
We have explained the project to a sample of the large and small landowners who could be included within the project’s authorized acquisitions boundary, stressing the “willing seller” policy that would govern all land negotiations. These landowners support adding this kind of selling option to their land management portfolios.
We have explained the project to many individual local elected officials. Every individual official indicates support for the public planning process that would be used to determine if a new refuge should be established in the high peaks region.
If you have questions about the People and Wildlife Project, please contact us. Read on to see what a few local people and organizations have said about the People and Wildlife Project so far:
“A new National Wildlife Refuge will make a good fit with the nearby working forest lands in the High Peaks backcountry. We have to protect traditional public access for future generations because it will be lost forever if we just sit by and watch it disappear.”
Milt Baston, Logger, Professional Guide, Strong Selectman, and President, High Peaks Alliance.
“The Sandy River Business Association represents some 70 businesses in the area surrounding Phillips, Madrid, Avon, and Strong. We feel that the initiative of a National Wildlife Refuge will not only enhance existing businesses but go a long way toward making the area more business friendly as well as attracting a larger visitor base to our communities.”
Sandy River Business Association.
“A National Wildlife Refuge would supplement other high peaks conservation efforts, both public and private, resulting in more protected habitats, more permanent public recreation areas, and a significantly strengthened base for community economic development. We urge local, county, and state leaders to actively participate in the further assessment and planning in the creation of a National Wildlife Refuge in the high peaks area.”
Town of Phillips Revitalization Committee.
“I have worked with High Peaks Alliance in the past and find their projects a balanced approach to maintaining public recreation access in the backcountry. I look forward to participating in the refuge planning process as it relates to high-quality trail corridors for ATVs, snowmobiles, and other trail uses, as a next step in the evolution of our vital recreation-based economy.”
Mike Ferguson, Owner, Rev-It-Up Sports Shop, Rangeley.
“Phillips has seen the loss of traditional employers and needs to rebuild our economic prospects including nature tourism that this wildlife refuge would assist. Phillips can act as a gateway to the High Peaks and a wildlife refuge would help market and brand our area and keep Barnjum and Abram open for recreation.”
Board of Selectmen, Town of Phillips.
“A new National Wildlife Refuge would complement our region’s vibrant and growing outdoor recreation by giving priority to recreational uses, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. It would also have planned uses for ATV, snowmobile, and hiking trails, and as a result will provide a strengthened base for regional economic development.”
Greater Franklin Development Corporation.
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