Submitted by Ted Williams on Thu, 09/14/2006 - 07:51.
I keep getting asked why the Blethen papers consistently publish such fine editorials. My theory is that they must have hired a smart new editorial writer: Sportsmen: Aim before firing on Katahdin deal Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. E-mail this story to a friend The folks at the Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine and the Maine Snowmobile Association have gotten wicked worked up about a wrinkle in the deal by the state to acquire the spectacular lands around Katahdin Lake and attach them to Baxter Park. That wrinkle's name is Roxanne Quimby, and the latest thing the cranky, controversial entrepreneur and philanthropist has done to get under sportsmen's skin is to exercise her right to spend her money as she pleases. In this case, Quimby has bought a large parcel of land next to Katahdin Lake (incidentally, the parcel was one the state wanted to acquire, but didn't have the money to buy). The problem, as SAM head George Smith and MSA head Bob Meyers see it, is that snowmobilers and hunters will have to cross Quimby's land to get to the portion of the Katahdin Lake purchase that the legislature set aside for hunting and possibly for motorized recreation; the rest of the acreage to be acquired will not be open for hunting or snowmobiles. Without having spoken to Quimby about whether she will post the land, Smith and Meyers assert that she will indeed bar their fellow sportsmen from crossing her new property, thus making the hunting parcel largely inaccessible. "That land doesn't have any value any longer," said Smith. There is precedent for Quimby doing so with other lands she has acquired. But she has not yet said she will post the Katahdin Lake lands she's just purchased. Nevertheless, Smith said earlier this week that the state Legislature should revisit the whole deal to acquire for the public one of the most exquisite pieces of property in all of Maine; Meyers said lawmakers should at least discuss it. In the language of hunting, we would encourage Smith, Meyers and their colleagues -- who fought hard against the Katahdin Lake preservation deal in the first place, and lost -- to aim before they fire. We'd encourage sportsmen to consult not only their Bushmaster manuals but Emily Post as well, and send a polite delegation to Ms. Quimby to ask her, please, if they can use her land. Now that they've antagonized her in the press, it may be a little difficult to convince Quimby to see the merit of their proposal; they may need to send proxies (perhaps some of the conservation groups Smith and Meyers have also antagonized?) instead. In the meantime, we commend Gov. John Baldacci for sticking to his commitment to see the deal through; we urge him to stay the course as pressure undoubtedbly mounts to abandon the deal. As state Rep. Patrick Flood (R-Winthrop) -- a registered Maine guide -- told the Portland Press Herald, "I would hope we could work with the landowner and find some solutions." And a note to lawmakers who were unable to bring themselves to pass a $100 million bond for purchase of public lands: If you'd passed that bond, we would have had the money to buy the parcel Quimby bought.