LEWISTON, Maine - Six months after the creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a new nonprofit group has been formed to preserve and protect it.
The Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a private group with a 13-member board of directors. Secretary Cathy Johnson says the initial goal is to attract more members of the public to volunteer in the monument and work on educational programs about it.
"Ultimately, over time, we expect to raise financial support for specific projects in the monument and in surrounding communities," Johnson says, "to raise private funds to supplement, but not replace, federal funds."
The group is similar in makeup to one created for Acadia National Park in 1986. Since then, Friends of Acadia has granted more than $25 million to the park in support of youth programs, restoration of Acadia's trails and carriage roads and establishment of the free Island Explorer bus system.
Johnson says the national monument has excellent hiking, paddling, biking and cross country skiing but the group plans to identify and develop additional opportunities for outdoor recreation. This winter, for example, a local snowmobile club partnered with the National Park Service to put additional decking on two snowmobile bridges in the national monument.
The goal, says Johnson, is to make the monument a top notch destination for visitors.