09.13.21: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Black-throated Blue Warbler, soon to be Caribbean-bound! KAAW, Maine, Sep 2021

Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, mid-September. Mushrooms color the ground, warblers the trees. The woods are full of little flocks, and the flocks feel like an end-of-summer mixer of locals (chickadees and Hairy Woodpeckers) and seasonals (the neotropical migrants.) The chickadees are loud—drawing attention, almost, to the warbler departure. “It’s time to say goodbye!” Because warblers make grand arrivals; Irish exits.

Maybe it’s us, though, that choose not to notice the warbler’s departure. Maybe it’s our own entrance into a season where so much either leaves or dies that’s reluctant. The transition times—the changes—get heavy…

“Change is always difficult. Especially here. Maine is the oldest state. And the rural areas have an even older population.”–Ginger, who I met on the International Appalachian Trail yesterday morning.

During my last couple semesters at Unity, there was a lot of fairly charged talk about this particular national monument. It had very little local support, and legitimate concerns about the continuance of traditional land uses (like hunting) were voiced. I was very pro-monument then. Now though, after a year of traveling through various public lands, I’ve become pretty disenchanted with the National Park Service. I’m glad that this immense chunk of land in Northern Maine has been saved from fragmentation, but the thought of it being developed with NPS priorities makes me sad (already, they’ve had a public comment period on making campsite reservations a recreation.gov disaster.) Keep wild places wild.

Local sentiments about KAAW. Bridge near Millinocket, Maine.

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