The creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters comes as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The Quimby Family Foundation has donated 87,500 acres of private land in the Maine North Woods to the federal government to create the newest large public park in the United States.
The White House announced a proclamation from President Barack Obama on Wednesday, declaring the land a National Monument named the Katahdin Woods and Waters. The land will now be protected and managed by the National Park Service, which celebrates its 100th anniversary Thursday.
“Katahdin Woods and Waters's daytime scenery is awe-inspiring, from the breadth of its mountain-studded landscape, to the channels of its free-flowing streams with their rapids, falls, and quiet water, to its vantages for viewing the Mount Katahdin massif, the ‘greatest mountain,’” Obama said in his proclamation. “The area's night skies rival this experience, glittering with stars and planets and occasional displays of the aurora borealis, in this area of the country known for its dark sky.”
Maine’s North Woods, a large tract of land in the north central part of the state, is the largest undeveloped area in the eastern U.S. It is an area that was once home to loggers and paper mills, but has been in economic decline in recent years.
The land donation has been controversial with locals, who have protested the creation of the park.
In addition to the land, the Quimby Foundation also gave a $20-million donation to supplement federal funds for the park’s operating and infrastructure needs, as well as another $20 million for future support.
The Quimby Foundation was started by Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of the Burt's Bees line of personal care products, which was sold to Clorox in 2007 for $925 million.
Katahdin Woods and Waters is almost twice the size of Acadia National Park, which was originally designated a national monument in 1916 with a land donation from John D. Rockefeller Jr.