Allagash Wilderness Construction Plans Spark Outrage

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Monday, March 11, 2024
Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933

Allagash Wilderness Construction Plans Spark Outrage

Maine Park Bureau Seeks Six New Buildings in Waterway’s Protected Corridor


Boston, MA — Construction plans within the protected corridor of Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway are generating public pushback, led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under both federal and state law, the entire length of the 92.5 mile river, nearly one-third of Maine’s total river miles, must be managed to enhance and protect its wilderness character.

The State of Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands plans to build six structures within the most protected part of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway corridor, a designation that averages 500 to 800 feet wide throughout the river’s length. PEER and past managers of the Allagash Waterway argue that this $1.2 million in new construction projects diminishes the Waterway’s wilderness character and is unnecessary as far less intrusive options are available.

The Bureau has slated three new offices and three new storage facilities at Chamberlain, Churchill, and Michaud Farm, respectively. The new offices are justified on grounds that current offices are not accessible as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet, the Bureau did not consider adding access ramps or other rehabilitation to the existing offices.

“By law, the Allagash is supposed to be managed to preserve ‘primitive America’ – not an office park,” stated New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, noting that for more than 50 years, the Allagash has been classified as a wild river under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. “This Bureau appears to be suffering from an edifice complex.”

As evidence that Bureau leadership does not understand or care about preserving the wilderness character of the Allagash corridor, PEER points to its purchase of a 250 horsepower 23-foot landing craft capable of excessive speeds.

“Having rangers roaring full throttle across Chamberlain Lake is the opposite of the wilderness character the Allagash is mandated to preserve,” added Bennett. “Allagash rangers have managed the river corridor quite well for many decades without speed boats.”

The Bureau’s plans have drawn objections from the National Park Service, which is charged with ensuring the Allagash continues to meet federal requirements for wild and scenic river status. In addition, former Allagash Wilderness Waterway managers covering three decades of service have also expressed their opposition to the plans.

This Friday, March 15th at 10 AM, the Bureau’s own seven member Allagash Advisory Council is meeting in Bangor to discuss these construction plans. The public can attend this session virtually or in person.


Read PEER protest letter

Attend Allagash Wilderness Advisory Council meeting on March 15

View Allagash Wilderness Waterway history

Phone: 202-265-7337

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