Enjoy winter – January eNewsletter

A welcome blanket of snow, grooming reports, new look for the Overlook, and more…

A brown and white speckled owl is perched in a winter tree.
A barred owl patiently watches for motion. Photo credit: Nolan Altvater

Winter is finally settling in at Katahin Woods and Waters and in the region, after a few frustrating false starts! Snow in the northern forests provides more than “snowglobe” photo ops and snow days, although those are both wonderful things. Snowpack makes a cozy cover from predators and the elements for small animals like mice and grouse. Deep snow in winter means our rivers will be refreshed with ample cold water in spring for salmon and trout. And we people need snow to do many of our favorite activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, and building forts (on snow days, of course).

We’ve been hearing from many of you excited to start your winter adventures in Katahdin Woods and Waters, and seeing your photos pop up on social media. Don’t forget to tag @friendsofkatahdinwoodsandwaters or send an old-fashioned email–we love to see friends enjoying time on the land.

Read on for all the January highlights and a preview of what’s coming up this winter!

But first: You did it! Our Annual Appeal raised more than $177,000 through the end of 2023, meeting our goal and then some. Thank you!


A photo of a large mountain from a distance, and a landscape plan rendering.
The timeless view of Katahdin from the Overlook, and a peek at the plans! Image: NPS

Priority Park Progress

Last year, you heard from Friends about the A Monumental Welcome campaign. The campaign is funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as we enter 2024 and these projects get underway.

Let’s start with a big one: a redesign of the iconic Katahdin Overlook on the scenic Loop Road. This project will be completed over two years, and NPS is currently wrapping the design phase. Changes to look forward to in the new design include amenities such as picnic tables, signage, and a pavilion for visitors to enjoy shade and rain protection, a parking loop to accommodate larger vehicles, and an accessible two-stall vault toilet. Future visitors will find accessible paths, trails, and waysides to explore the area surrounding the Overlook.

Once work can begin, the first year will see all the major excavation and groundwork being contracted out. The second year will include construction of all trails and paths, installing the vault toilet, working on the general landscaping of the site, and installing informative waysides and kiosks. We are proud to share that Friends has already granted $500,000 for this project to the National Park Service – thanks to the support of friends like you.


A photo montage of children playing in snow.
Scenes from previous years have us excited for Camp! Photo credits: FKWW

Friends Connecting Community to Nature

February Vacation Camp is almost here! Now in its third year, Friends’ education program, Katahdin Learning Project, will continue this collaborative program with our community partners including Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, Outdoor Sport Institute, and Katahdin Gear Library. Camp will be held over 4 days during the school break and is registration is now open to students in grade 2-5 from the Katahdin region free of charge. Each day will feature a fun new theme designed to connect students to their community and nature. We are especially excited to roll out a new camp initiative this year: Outdoor Leaders and Ambassadors. These middle and high school students will be mentored by KLP staff, develop professional and leadership skills, create their own mini-lessons and give our staff a hand as needed. These leadership and career readiness experiences are made possible through a partnership with Syntiro’s Gear Up Maine Program, which has helped prepare Maine students for postsecondary education since 1998. (Psst! Does this sound like a good fit for a Katahdin region middle or high school student you know? Reach out to elise@friendsofkww.org for more information!)

Staff and Board Migrations

Friends’ Board of Directors welcomed two new members in late 2023. Dan Wenk retired as the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park in 2019 after a 43-year career dedicated to the National Park Service. James E. Francis, Sr is the Historic Preservation Officer for Penobscot Nation and a historical researcher, photographer, filmaker, and graphics artist.

We also bid a bittersweet farewell to Friends’ longest-serving staff member, Projects Director Sam Deeran. From his home office in Herserytown Twp, Sam will be working as an independent contractor with organizations across the state seeking to undertake collaborative work. Thank you for all you’ve done for Friends, the monument, and our community, Sam!


A wooden sign for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument with the NPS arrowhead logo.

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument


Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our Lookout level sponsor Elliotsville Foundation! EFI’s work is about strengthening communities and economies by expanding connections with the outdoors,  exemplified by the collaborative process to create Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in the national monument.

And thank you to F.A. Peabody for their Hathorn level sponsorship! F.A. Peabody Insurance – “Because…Things Happen”


The mission of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations.

 

 

—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on January 30, 2024. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup

National Park Foundation Supports Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument With $1 Million Gift

Tekαkαpimək, South wing interior (rendering by Aleksey Mokhov and WeShouldDoItAll)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 1, 2024

KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT – Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters is pleased to share that the National Park Foundation will make a $1 million contribution  to the Monumental Welcome Campaign, supporting completion of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Tekαkαpimək translates from the Penobscot language to “as far as one can see” and is pronounced de gah-gah bee mook

The donation is made possible by the National Park Foundation’s fiscal year 2024 federal appropriations, and brings the Foundation’s total campaign giving to over $2 million after  previous grants in 2022 and 2023.

Campaign Co-Chair Lucas St. Clair said, “The National Park Foundation has been a critical partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument from the start, and this extraordinary investment further highlights their belief in the exciting work happening here in Northern Maine. We’re grateful for the Foundation’s support to enhance the visitor experience, help expand the economic benefits in the region, and expose more people to the beauty that is Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.”

To date, nearly $30 million has been raised towards the campaign goal of $35 million, which will provide $31 million for Tekαkαpimək Contact Station, $2.7 million for Park Priority Projects to protect natural resources and enhance visitor experience, and $1 million for future Wabanaki Directed Projects. The campaign thus far has been made possible by over 200 donors including leadership gifts from Roxanne Quimby Foundation, Elliotsville Foundation, Inc., Burt’s Bees, an Anonymous Donor, L.L. Bean, the National Park Foundation, and NorthLight Foundation. 

“Thanks to the vision, hard work and tremendous generosity of Roxanne Quimby and Lucas St. Clair, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is thriving,” said Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Along with Quimby and St. Clair, the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters’ commitment to designing and building the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in close consultation with the Wabanaki Tribal community is a tribute to the power of partnership.”

Architectural, landscape and exhibition designs for Tekαkαpimək Contact Station resulted from a process between Elliotsville Foundation, representatives of the Wabanaki Nations, Saunders Architecture, Design Architect – Norway, Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, Alisberg Parker, Architect of Record – USA, WeShouldDoItAll, Tuhura Communications, Erin Hutton Projects, Split Rock Studios, and the National Park Service. In all of this work, Wabanaki artisans, writers, and historians have been engaged as creators and advisors in designing and fabricating the tangible spaces and signage as well as agreements governing ownership of the work. Tekαkαpimək Contact Station invites visitors to engage with the history, present, and vibrant future of Wabanaki people who have lived here continuously for thousands of years. 

The Tekαkαpimək Contact Station site is an active construction zone and is closed to visitors at this time. A grand opening is planned for August 17, 2024. All Wabanaki cultural knowledge and intellectual property shared within the project is owned by the Wabanaki Nations

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Images of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and renderings of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station are available here for download.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is located within the present and traditional homeland of the Penobscot Nation. The land and waters hold special significance to the Penobscot Nation and are inextricably linked with Penobscot culture, ceremonies, oral traditions, language, history, and indigenous stewardship which continues the respectful relationship with the land and waterways that has gone back more than 11,000 years. Katahdin is a culturally significant place to the Wabanaki people where connecting watersheds provide important travel routes for Wabanaki people, comprised of Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION

The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at www.nationalparks.org.

ABOUT FRIENDS OF KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS

The mission of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters is an official philanthropic partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The organization also partners with the park service through an education agreement, reaching thousands of students each year through the Katahdin Learning Project. Learn more at www.friendsofkww.org.

CONTACTS:
BRIAN HINRICHS,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
FRIENDS OF KATAHDIN WOODS & WATERS
brian@friendsofkww.org


CHELSEY MCLIN,
DIRECTOR, MEDIA & PUBLIC RELATIONS
NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION

cmclin@nationalparks.org

Our Park Stories

This year, guides, staff, members and volunteers shared with us their connection to the monument through #myparkstory. Their stories inspired us but there was something about all of them that felt really familiar.

Here’s a recap of the park stories we heard this year:

“In 2019, my relationships to people and place in the Katahdin Region deepened. Our staff was four full-timers. We took a trip to Haskell Hut, ate well, and laughed a lot. In spring, I did my first paddle of the East Branch with four friends (counting the dog-pal pictured). At summer’s end I had the good fortune to visit with the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps as they wrapped up bridge construction over Katahdin Brook.” Read more here.

-Sam Deeran, FKWW Projects Director

 

“We drove up to Katahdin Woods and Waters on a sunny February morning. After a nice lunch at Matagamon Lodge, we parked at the north gate and enjoyed four hours of skiing on nicely packed pulk trails–without another human encounter!… We’ve been supporters of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters since the very beginning and enjoy seeing the changes as they come. Signage has improved greatly! It’s a beautiful area to visit in all seasons.”

-Mary and J.R. Krevans, FKWW members, Bar Harbor

 

 

“Seven hours of driving logged on my son’s learner’s permit, a collective six books read, and 36 hours with almost no digital connection…We’ll be back again to experience that pace. And I like to think a trip like this can help us stay a bit more in the moment even at home the rest of the year.” Read more here.

-Sarah Andre, FKWW Development Coordinator

 

Photo used with permission from Mahoosuc Guide Services, mahoosuc.com

 

 

Kevin Slater, co-owner of Mahoosuc Guide Services talked to us this summer about his connection to Katahdin Woods & Waters through paddling. In 50 years of paddling the East Branch of the Penobscot, he’s learned that every paddling trip is a new experience–and he is an important witness to changes that slowly span the decades.   Read more here.

 

 

“In that moment, watching my friends sprint around the field showing each other what each telescope held made me realize the beauty of outdoors. The seasonal autumn feel against the beauty ahead of me began my love for the outdoors. And I think my friends fell in love too, without even realizing it.

Sure, Taylor’s Katahdin View Camps isn’t directly on the monument, but it still symbolizes the mix of community and nature that we strive for.” Read more here.

-Maggie O’Hara, FKWW High School Summer Educator

 

“Many evenings included guided discussions about how to recreate responsibly outdoors, plus storytelling around the campfire. The students learned history of the conserved lands that we visited,  the many types of land management styles, as well as the importance of protecting land for wildlife and recreation. Our reflections got deeper throughout the season. A student who first arrived shy and unsure of the outdoors was taking on leadership roles, volunteering answers to questions, and seeking more ways to get involved. In his own words: ‘It just feels really, really good to be out here in the wild’.” Read more here.

-Elise Goplerud, FKWW Education Coordinator

 

 

“Over the past several months, my first impressions of Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument have been slowly taking shape. #Myparkstory is still being written, but it now has a first chapter spanning three seasons and three unique encounters with this landscape that feels more unusual and inspiring with every visit.” Read more here.

-Brian Hinrich, FKWW Executive Director

 

Our final park story for 2023 is from Candy! Candy McKellar– a longtime resident of the Katahdin region, educator, artist, early and ardent supporter of Katahdin Woods and Waters, is also a constant volunteer on Katahdin Learning Project field trips. She shared a few of her favorite and formative memories of the national monument.

“Sitting on the Lynx Pond viewing platform, before it was even completed, with my new friend Nancy Hathaway. On this late afternoon in the fall we watched a mother moose and her two calves graze along the far edge of the pond. Climbing Barnard Mountain and easing through the split in the giant boulder on the trip up. Watching school children spill out of the yellow bus and line up to head out on a hike, or circle around an educator or ranger for an environmental lesson–tailored to the age of the group and the uniqueness of ‘our park.'”

 

Thanks to You – November/December eNewsletter

Taking time for nature, first snow, Annual Appeal continues, volunteer Candy’s #parkstory, December happenings, and more…

The most [wonderful?, chaotic?, conflicted?] time of year has arrived. Whether the slate of year-end holidays marks a time of joy or a time to persevere for you–one constant is that a LOT is going on. Nonprofit organizations like Friends necessarily contribute to the frenzy to ensure fundraising goals are met. With all the excitement that comes with the season, we can use a reminder to take time for reflection.

Two women hiking with a black dog on a leash in the fall.
The best gift – time outdoors with loved ones. Photo credit: Taylor Walker

Pause for a moment and imagine you are standing in a quiet forest. Close your eyes and remember the smell and temperature of the air, the way the ground resists and sounds underfoot. December is a quiet month in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, after the fall hunting season ends and, typically, before the snow falls thick enough for skis and snowshoes. What sounds, sights and smells might you notice now?

A young white girl smiles from behind a snowy tree with more snowy trees in the background.
Breaking news: snow has arrived in the Katahdin region! Kids of all ages–get ready for more days like this one (last March). Photo credit: FKWW

We hope that you can visit a patch of quiet woods in these weeks before the year ends–whether you drive up the Swift Brook Road and park at the (seasonally closed) Loop Road gate for a walk with old friends, stop by a local nature preserve with your kids, or simply visualize your favorite sylvan space. Let the gratitude for these places inspire peacefulness now, and hope for the year ahead!


Friends’ Annual Appeal Continues through 2023 – Join In!

Thank you to everyone who has joined Friends’ annual appeal with a year-end gift so far. You are an amazing community that believes in protecting the ecological and cultural treasures of Katahdin Woods and Waters, the promise of our youth to be better stewards of the land, and the future of the Katahdin region in developing a sustainable outdoor recreation economy. Let’s see how much we can do in 2024!

It takes everyone paddling together to make a difference. Photo credit: Taylor Walker

#myparkstory/#yourparkstory

In the final Park Story of our yearlong series, meet Candy! Of course, many, many people already know Candy McKellar–as a longtime resident of the Katahdin region, educator, artist, early and ardent supporter of Katahdin Woods and Waters, or a constant volunteer on Katahdin Learning Project field trips. She shared a few of her favorite and formative memories of the national monument.

Sitting on the Lynx Pond viewing platform, before it was even completed, with my new friend Nancy Hathaway. On this late afternoon in the fall we watched a mother moose and her two calves graze along the far edge of the pond.

Climbing Barnard Mountain and easing through the split in the giant boulder on the trip up.

Watching school children spill out of the yellow bus and line up to head out on a hike, or circle around an educator or ranger for an environmental lesson–tailored to the age of the group and the uniqueness of “our park.”

A white woman in a ballcap and hiking clothes is seated on a stone bench.
Photo credit: FKWW

Candy says she has always loved the outdoors and wanted to help preserve it for future generations–and continues to volunteer with Friends to educate local youth about the great outdoors right here!


Fall Education Program Wrap-up

Our education program Katahdin Learning Project’s fall program season wrapped in early November, and it was one of our best yet! Friends’ Education Coordinator Elise Goplerud notes some achievements marked during a fantastic two months of learning and growing outdoors.

  • Expanded access to more schools by offering programs at three new outdoor sites in the Katahdin region,
  • Reached more than 400 students in field trips, classroom visits, and community programs,
  • Tested water quality with thirteen different groups at five different locations,
  • Co-hosted a teen campout at our Stars Over Katahdin event, and
  • Facilitated two career panels featuring speakers from the National Park Service, Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness, Maine Forest Rangers, Baxter State Park, Mt. Chase Lodge, Katahdin Area Trails and more for 40 local middle and high school students!
    A white woman points at a tree during an outdoor lesson with teens.
    Learning and fun are part of the program. Photo credit: Taylor Walker

We are honored daily for the opportunity to help students from across the Katahdin region connect to the land and their community in new and deeper ways.


Don’t miss a moment – Follow Friends

Looking for more stories, photos, and connection to the monument and Friends? Head to our Facebook and Instagram for updates throughout the month! With an average of two to three posts per week, we share more photos, links and moments than can be squeezed into this monthly newsletter. Connect with folks who share your passion for Katahdin Woods and Waters by catching up on our feeds. Be sure to “like” and “follow” us, and when you are inspired by something you see, share it!

Connect with us! Photo credits from top L: FKWW, FKWW, Ross Knowlton

Park News – Building for the Future

  • In a season of houseguests, the need for more bathrooms becomes apparent. Although beyond the reach of motor traffic until May, the brand-new vault toilet at the Deasey Pond Trailhead will offer relief to visitors next season–not least for teachers with 30 students fresh off a 45 minute bus ride. ADA facilities at popular destinations in the monument are among many projects funded by A Monumental Welcome capital campaign.
  • Are you ready to explore career options with the National Park Service? Full-time, part-time, year-round, and seasonal (2024) positions are all posted at USAjobs.gov. Enter “Patten, Maine” in the search to see what is available. Never miss a job post by saving your search and setting up email notifications.
  • On November 13th, NPS offered a behind-the-scenes tour of Tekakapimek to Katahdin Collaborative members. Exhibitry has recently been installed, as the site gets ready to shut down for winter before final construction resumes in the spring.
    Several people are scattered throughout a large, wood-clad exhibit space.
    Photo credit: FKWW

    Ripple Effect – We thought you might like to know…


    Sponsor Spotlight

    Thank you to our Deasey level sponsor Haley Ward! A 100% employee-owned technical consulting firm based in Bangor, Haley Ward is a key part of the construction team at Tekαkαpimək Contact Station and important member of the Friends community.

    And we are welcoming and thanking Eaton Peabody, a Maine law firm who joined Friends this year at the Barnard level.

    Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports our mission and work. To learn more about becoming a sponsor in 2023, visit friendsofkww.org/sponsorship or contact sarah@friendsofkww.org.


    —This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on December 5, 2023. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup

Friends’ Lucky Stars (and moon) – October eNewsletter

Clouds part for Stars Over Katahdin, outdoor careers panel, e-Appeal challenge launched, and more…

Just two weeks ago, Friends hosted the 10th Annual Stars Over Katahdin, a community event celebrating Katahdin Woods and Waters’ Dark Sky Sanctuary. The weather forecast was uninspiring (surprise: rain), but the clouds parted throughout the day as we marveled at a partial solar eclipse and again at night for stellar viewing of the Milky Way and countless stars, planets, constellations, nebulae, and more!

A dark night sky with the Milky Way over a large deciduous tree.
After dusk, the clouds parted to reveal the Milky Way stretched across the sky. Photo credit: Taylor Walker

The air is chilly, but our hearts are warm this season with gratitude for the community of astronomers who brought their valuable time, equipment, and expertise to us. We are also warmed by your generosity in response to our October e-Appeal challenge last week! Annual appeal letters are headed to mailboxes soon with moving messages from Rory, a participant in our youth education programs, and Logan, Friends’ board member. Both grew up in the Katahdin region and have become deeply connected and committed to the land we now steward as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. I hope you will read their stories, and our news shared here today, and be inspired by all that we can accomplish for this place we love.


Stars Over Katahdin Shines

Despite a cloudy forecast, this year’s Stars Over Katahdin was a stellar success. During the day, attendees safely viewed the partial solar eclipse, watched a (model) rocket launch, and walked inside a scale model of the solar system. Rangers from Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument helped orient folks headed in to explore the Scenic Loop Road attractions and recruited some Junior Ranger Night Explorers!

A model rocket ship is 6 feet from the ground with a puff of smoke below. A group of teens are gathered around.
Volunteer Rebecca Spitz launches the model rocket! Photo credit: Taylor Walker
A circle comprising about 35 people are joined hand to hand in a grassy field.
A Round Dance led by Turning Eagle Singers warmed the audience. Photo credit: Taylor Walker

As the sun set, a very special drumming and singing performance by the Turning Eagle Singers brought folks together with joined hands for a circle dance. Kids moved toward the crackling fire as the audience was treated to a lively telling of the mythical Orion, a teaser for the next solar eclipse, and some easy action steps to reduce our own light pollution! Although the clouds moved in and out early in the evening, they moved out to provide amazing stargazing and guided viewing of celestial objects through a variety of advanced telescopes.

Two white men look through telescopes during the day in a grassy field.
Setting up scopes for peeks at the eclipse. Photo credit: Terri Ann Anderson

This annual event, now ten years in, depends on generous volunteers who travel from the far reaches of Maine and New England to share their expertise and passion for the night sky. Friends is grateful for the opportunity to share the wonder of our dark skies each year.

To learn more:

International Dark Sky Places Certification

National Park Service – Night Skies 


The Future is Outdoors

Friends’ education program, Katahdin Learning Project, is opening students’ eyes to future careers in the conservation and outdoor recreation sectors. KLP has been providing free, place-based nature learning to schools in the Katahdin region since 2017. As the early cohorts of students have grown, so has our programming–deepening the connections between the landscape, the folks who work in it, and youth in the surrounding communities.

Rangers and other outdoor professionals in uniform are seated at a table facing an audience (not shown).
Outdoor professionals talk to 6th graders! Photo credit: FKWW

Early in October, seven professionals representing the outdoor sector, including Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, Maine Forest Rangers, Baxter State Park, Katahdin Area Trails, Katahdin Gear Library, and Outdoor Sport Institute spoke to Ashland 6th graders at the Island Falls Fish and Game center. The panel spoke about the many opportunities in the Katahdin region. The students listened thoughtfully and asked great questions. At the end of the day, many remarked that they didn’t know there were so many outdoor professions, and hands went up when asked if they could see themselves in one of these careers!

The career panel is such a popular concept with educators that KLP has scheduled two more in November, at Southern Aroostook Community School and Katahdin Middle High School, to reach 40 high school students.

Six elementary students and two adult women stand on a sandy river beach.
Teaching students to understand the river helps protect it. Photo credit: FKWW

A special program last week introduced East Millinocket School’s 4th graders to Shantel Neptune and Maddie Huerth from the Penobscot Nation Natural Resource Department when they joined us for a water quality lesson. Maddie and Shantel talked to the students about their work as water scientists while explaining the importance of healthy water to Penobscot people. Students then turned into community scientists; testing water on the East Branch of the Penobscot River for dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chlorine, alkalinity, and hardness. The fourth graders left with an understanding of how these tests, as well as turbidity and clarity, reveal the river’s health and how it is intimately connected to the health of salmon, otters, turtles, and more–including us humans.


Update on Wolfden Mining Proposal

As you know, it is not often that Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters shares an advocacy position. We formed shortly after courageous local, regional, and national advocacy efforts to establish the national monument and when the moment calls for it, we’ve taken positions to protect this special place. By now, news that a metallic mineral mine proposed for the Katahdin Region has been well-covered, as well as the required rezoning hearings in Millinocket and Bangor before Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC). Friends thanks the many members, aligned organizations, and concerned citizens who have submitted testimony or spoke at the LUPC proceedings.

Friends’ full position statement can be found here on our blog. Written comment on Wolfden’s rezoning request will be accepted until Thursday, November 2nd. Learn more about the LUPC process and timeline here.


Park News – Know before you go!

  • Bookmark the Current Conditions page on the NPS KAWW website. Road closures, including seasonal gating (happening soon!), can be found here.
  • Hunting is permitted (with a Maine state license) on monument lands east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River. These areas are designated in dark green on this NPS monument map. Bear baiting, trapping, and chase dogs are not permitted. Hikers, wear your orange!
  • Camping – Summer camping will close at the end of the month, but check recreation.gov for more information on reserving the popular Haskell and Big Spring Brook Huts this winter!
A wooden sign says welcome to Katahdin Woods and Waters Naitonal Monument.
Photo credit: Taylor Walker

Ripple Effect

  • If you know the Katahdin region, or have driven through it on the way to the monument’s north entrance, you have beheld Patten’s historic and prominent 1845 Regular Baptist Church. Down East Magazine peeks inside this unique building and profiles the woman on a quest to save it.
  • Watch: Maine Public’s Borealis episode featuring Nyle Sockbeson’s (Penobscot, Passamaquoddy) Appalachian Trail journey. Nyle works for Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness and will join the panelists at KLP’s next career panel!
  • Learn: about Land Back and find further resources from the Bomazeen Land Trust, who believe that “education is the most fundamental element of allyship and liberation.”

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our Deasey level sponsor, Ktaadn Resorts! Home of the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC), Ktaadn Resorts has grown to include a brewery, event center, and miles of adjacent hiking and mountain biking trails built by Katahdin Area Trails, and is host to many Friends’ events.

And thank you to Trust for Public Land for their Barnard level sponsorship! TPL works alongside communities across the country to create, protect, and steward the nature-rich places that are vital to human well-being.

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports our mission and work. To learn more about becoming a sponsor in 2023, visit friendsofkww.org/sponsorship or contact sarah@friendsofkww.org.


—This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on October 25, 2023. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup

Advocacy Alert: Friends’ Position on Wolfden Mine

It is not every day that Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters sends an advocacy alert. Our friends group followed from the courageous local, regional, and national advocacy efforts to establish the national monument and when the moment calls for it, we’ve taken positions to protect this special place. You may have heard that a metallic mineral mine is being proposed for the Katahdin Region. As Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) hearings are set to begin next week in Millinocket and the following week in Bangor, we want to take a moment to inform you of our position. In short: Friends of KWW cannot support the Wolfden application for a zone change for the Pickett Mountain Mine Project. It runs counter to our mission as well as protective state laws and rules, and it jeopardizes the future health, outstanding environmental quality, and long-term economic vitality of this region.

Read Our Full Statement Below

An aerial view of Pleasant Lake, photo by Jerry Monkman courtesy of NRCM

The mission of the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. Created in 2017, shortly after the establishment of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the Friends of KWW is a non-profit membership organization with approximately 1000 members from the Katahdin region, the state of Maine and across the U.S. Our position presents the views of the Friends of KWW, and does not purport to present the views of the National Park Service or any other entity.

In line with our mission, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is voicing its objection to Wolfden Mount Chase LLC’s application for a zone change for the proposed Pickett Mountain Mine Project (ZP779A).

As we have reviewed and analyzed Wolfden’s proposal, considered the objections of the Wabanaki people and others, and reviewed the Land Use Planning Commission’s criteria for consideration of this proposal, it is clear to Friends of KWW that now is the time to voice our concerns.

The Katahdin region and the shadow of a national monument is no place to operate a metallic mineral mine. The proposed location is approximately 5 miles from the Seboeis parcel of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The primary issues we have identified as points of concern include:

  • Water pollution in both surface and groundwater, affecting fish populations and the health of pristine lakes and ponds including some designated as Maine Heritage Fish Waters and rivers, including downstream connections to the Penobscot River, sacred to the Penobscot Nation and critical to the monument and area ecosystems
  • Light pollution risking the monument’s International Dark Sky Sanctuary status
  • Endangered species impacts on Canada lynx, Atlantic salmon, and northern long eared bat, from limited mobility due to fencing, car strikes, and water pollution risks
  • Noise, air, and dust pollution, particularly from truck routes near monument lands, adversely affecting wildlife and the visitor experience
  • Viewshed impacts from a new transmission line and equipment that rises above the 80 foot tree line
  • Loss of the region’s and monument’s character and reputation as a first-class park and recreation destination, resulting in adverse economic impacts on the outdoor-recreation based economy

Furthermore, the lack of clarity around the location of Wolfden’s ore concentration facility in the region is of significant concern. Combined, the risks are substantial enough to threaten present and future generations’ enjoyment of the national monument as well as the vitality of critical ecosystems that are connected to the monument.

LUPC’s responsibility is to sustainably protect the natural character, natural resources, recreational opportunities, and forest and agricultural based economy of the region, and its mandate is to avoid undue adverse impacts on existing uses and resources of the region.

Friends of KWW supports efforts to improve economic opportunity in the Katahdin Region, and welcomes business and industry that is compatible with the preservation and enjoyment of the national monument. The national monument itself is contributing to these economic opportunities, and many new or expanded businesses are benefiting from them. Friends of KWW cannot support the Wolfden application for a zone change for the Pickett Mountain Mine Project that runs counter to our mission as well as protective state laws and rules, and jeopardizes the future health, outstanding environmental quality, and long-term economic vitality of this region.

Additional Information and How to Speak Up

  • FAQs answered by Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM)
  • Commentary: “The Katahdin Region is no place for a large mining operation” by Clarissa Sabattis, Chief of Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and Kirk Francis, Chief of Penobscot Indian Nation
  • LUPC Background, Documents on Woflden’s Proposal, and Submitted Testimony
  • Notice of Public Hearing: Millinocket (10/16 & 10/17)
  • Notice of Public Hearing: Bangor (10/23)
  • Write to LUPC

Thank you for reading and engaging with this important process.

Fall for the Dark – September eNewsletter

Autumn adventures, Brian’s #myparkstory, Stars Over Katahdin registration, be a Junior Ranger Night Explorer, and more…

When was the last time you stood outside at night and looked up at the sky? Many of us do not have a view of the stars from home, trapped in the bubbles of light cast by industry, street lamps, and illuminated windows. Away from city lights, the dark can make us uneasy, but for countless animals considering their fall migrations, long dark nights are essential for safety and travel success. As humans, looking into the vast universe, we can find comfort in spotting familiar constellations, and awe while contemplating our place in the glowing band that is our galaxy. Today, 80% of Americans cannot see the Milky Way.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2020 for its stunningly dark skies. With this designation comes an obligation to protect this exceptional natural resource. Your membership support has been crucial in raising awareness, educating the public, and supporting research.

Fall is the perfect time to plan a dark sky trip! Rangers are hosting a series of Night Sky programs in and near the national monument, the bugs are (mostly) gone, and the sun is setting earlier each day! Friends is especially excited for our 10th annual Stars Over Katahdin, a family event open to all on Saturday, October 14th (read all about it below).

People gathered with telescopes at night with the Milky Way.
Star party at the Overlook. Photo credit: John Meader

#myparkstory/#yourparkstory

From a peaceful solo snowshoe to an off-script camping adventure with two boys, Executive Director Brian Hinrichs has packed a variety of iconic Katahdin Woods and Waters experiences since joining the team. Check out Brian’s park story this month, spanning the seasons and many of our favorite activities (including identifying moose poop).

A family on a rocky mountaintop looking across a wooded landscape.
Atop Barnard Mountain a fine picnic spot awaits! Photo credit: Brian Hinrichs

Fall fun with Katahdin Learning Project

This season, KLP is excited to expand programs into the community and offer programs in Island Falls, Medway and Millinocket in addition to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Education Coordinator Elise shared: “We will be expanding our water quality citizen science project by testing water at three different locations in the Katahdin region. Students will connect the water that flows through their communities to health, environment, and culture.”

A group of children gather around a colorful water pH test strip.
Students test pH levels in the East Branch, 2022. Photo credit: FKWW

KLP saw tremendous success with the Katahdin Region Outdoor Collaborative (KROC) summer day and overnight programs for middle schoolers and will keep the adventures going this fall! KLP, Outdoor Sport Institute, Katahdin Gear Library, and Katahdin Area Trails will offer a day hike and an overnight camping opportunity for youth this October. Attention local families – registration will open soon! Reach out to elise@friendsofkww.org with questions.

Welcome to Isabelle Jandreau, who will be working with KLP during our fall programs in her role as a KROC Fellow. Isabelle is from northern Maine and recently graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Maine. Last summer, she interned with Outdoor Sport Institute and got to know the KLP team through collaborative programs–which made Isabelle the perfect choice to be selected in an innovative pilot program hosted as a fellowship at OSI. The KROC fellow works with various organizations – strengthening programmatic collaborations and adding shared capacity around the Katahdin Region. Isabelle dove in this month (although hopefully not literally) by leading a kayak workshop with students from Stearns High School in Millinocket.

Stars Over Katahdin

On October 14th, Friends will gather with the National Park Service, expert astronomers, and our community to celebrate the darkest skies East of the Mississippi River. The free event will run from noon to 10 p.m. and feature safe guided viewing of a partial solar eclipse, family activities, food from Oak Creek Smokery, campfire chats, and – of course – night sky viewing. Learn more and visit the registration page here.

A man watches another man looking through a telescope in daylight.
Learning how to use a telescope before dark. Photo credit: John Meader

Park News


Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to two of our Hathorn level sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank and Maine Audubon! From supporting community businesses to protecting our state’s wildlife, these two Friends support our work financially and in the community.

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports our mission and work. To learn more about becoming a sponsor in 2023, visit friendsofkww.org/sponsorship or contact sarah@friendsofkww.org.


—This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on September 27, 2023. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup

Brian’s Park Story – The Land Invites Us

Executive Director Brian Hinrichs’ relationship with Katahdin Woods and Waters will be familiar to many of our readers. From curiousity to apprehension (the roads! no cell service!) to a genuine connection, Brian’s park story takes us through the seasons and stages of discovering places within the national monument that create lifelong family memories.

Over the past several months, my first impressions of Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument have been slowly taking shape. #Myparkstory is still being written, but it now has a first chapter spanning three seasons and three unique encounters with this landscape that feels more unusual and inspiring with every visit. 

Winter

A few weeks before my second interview to become the Executive Director of Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters in March, I set off to start exploring the monument.

For years, I had read about the development of Katahdin Woods & Waters with fascination. As a Maine resident since 2013 and regular hiker, I was always enthusiastic about the monument’s formation. As a father of three young kids, we tended to stick to more familiar terrain. Acadia was our go-to. Even after hiking Katahdin in 2018, the monument felt intimidating, or confusing. Where to start? 

That crisp, bluebird day back in March ended up being the perfect low-key introduction to Katahdin Woods & Waters. In winter, the monument can only be accessed from the North End for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. I parked at the North Gate and showshoed down to the Oxbow Road back up the Old River Road along the East Branch of the Penobscot River. 

A snowy landscape including a river with open water.
A stop along Old River Rd, March 5, 2023. Photo credit (all): Brian Hinrichs

 

What I encountered was genuine peace, and the feeling that things were possible in this remote corner of the North Woods that were not elsewhere. Lynx and black bear tracks quickly revealed themselves; a light breeze down Billfish Mountain sounded like a slowly cresting wave; the river had a life of its own, inviting pause and reflection at every bend. The scenery was objectively beautiful, but it was the feeling of the place that lingered. 

Spring

Late spring brought the opportunity to start introducing my family to the monument. On the day before Memorial Day, we set out to Barnard Mountain, one of the signature hikes in KAWW. The Loop Road had just opened, and we got to the trailhead a little before noon after leaving Bangor at 9. I was a little nervous about taking our minivan onto the Loop Road, but it did just fine taking things slow and steady.

It was a late-May scorcher and the initial open stretch of road along the International Appalachian Trail brought a series of questions (accusations?) from my oldest, including, “How will you know if I have heat stroke?” After a rough start, a key ingredient quickly turned things around: moose poop! Truly epic amounts of moose poop kept our kids running down the trail, positive a sighting was imminent. 

A father and children at a picnic table on a mountaintop.
The scene atop Barnard Mountain, May 28, 2023.

While no one laid eyes on a moose (we are far too noisy for that), the views from Barnard were plenty rewarding. We spent almost an hour at the summit, enjoying an epic picnic and soaking in the unobstructed site of a still snow-capped Katahdin. Here, the wind in the trees was even more pronounced, the only sound for miles.

Summer

Summer has meant frequent day trips to the monument with Friends, but I was eager to plan a camping trip with my older boys. At the end of August, we finally found the time.

I made our reservations on Recreation.gov for a campsite at Lunksoos. We’ve had great car camping trips in recent years at Lily Bay, Rangeley, and Peaks-Kenny State Parks, but those sites can feel noisy and crowded in the heart of summer. Lunksoos offered the right balance of seclusion and accessibility. 

A tent and picnic table in a wooded setting.
Setting up camp at Lunksoos, August 27, 2023.

 

Paddling the East Branch, August 27, 2023.

After a short walk in to set up our tent site, we took a meandering afternoon paddle up the East Branch, with stops along the way as inspired. The silver maple floodplain defining this section of the Penobscot again invites pause: slowly floating under arching trunks; scanning dense layers of ferns; listening to that constant shuffle of leaves and limbs in the breeze. At one of our stops, we spotted big, wet, fresh moose prints, putting my older two boys (now 11 and 8) back on high alert. On the way back down the river, the gentle current let us relax even more, spotting beaver dams and jumping fish along the way.

 

An orange sunset darkens to purple with dark leafy trees in the foreground, a mountain in the background, and a river reflecting all.
Sunset on the East Branch, August 27, 2023.

That first night, the skies were clear and we went down to the river to soak it all in. The vastness of the universe can’t hide at Katahdin Woods & Waters. Later on, we all passed out, though some riled-up squirrels had fun pelting our tent with pine cones early the next morning.

 

Dark blue ski with many stars, framed by two trees.
Night skies from Lunksoos Boat Launch, August 27, 2023.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started the second day with a plan to drive up to Loop Road and hike to Orin Falls. The key to camping and hiking with kids is to keep expectations low and be ready to pivot. One of my boys was struck with a serious bout of car sickness as we were approaching the trailhead; it made me reconsider a six-mile hike on a hot day, with a potentially dehydrated kid, even though the promise of a refreshing swim was tempting. As we set out, I remembered Elise Goplerud, FKWW’s Education Coordinator, telling me about a great spot along the trail for some river walking – right under the old logging bridge at the Wassataquoik campsite, about a mile from the trailhead.

A view looking up a wooded stream with thick brush and large trees.
A view up Katahdin Brook from the Wassataquoik campsite, August 28, 2023.

The campsite is nestled along Katahdin Brook as it approaches convergence with the Wassataquoik Stream and is a natural resting point. Given the option to stay and explore, or keep hiking, we all felt good about letting go of the final destination and seeing what the new plan would bring. We suited up and hopped in a chilly Katahdin Brook. Totally alone, we were energized to explore, wading under the bridge, splashing in knee-deep rapids, eventually building up the courage to dunk. Later in the week, back at home, when asked what their favorite part of the trip was, it was this.

“River walking” in Katahdin Brook, August 28, 2023.

After getting the minivan back up the Orin Falls Road, we made two more stops. In the name of spotting a moose, we put in for a paddle at Sandbank Stream and explored as much as we could before encountering shallow waters and beaver dams at both ends. Continuing along Swift Brook Road, we couldn’t resist a quick dip at Whetstone Falls. Back at Lunksoos, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon and evening filled with s’mores.

 

A metal fire ring with a fire in it, in a wooded campsite.
Campfire at Lunksoos, August 28, 2023.

Awaking to rain on our last morning, we decided to take our time packing, getting in one last round of Uno in the tent before the drive to Bangor. It ended up being just about 48 hours in the monument, leaving us all feeling accomplished and still wanting more, which feels like the right balance with kids. 

Look Back, Looking Forward

I didn’t grow up hiking and camping. On Long Island, I was a beach kid. A family trip to Yosemite National Park left its mark, but it wasn’t until college near the Adirondacks that these excursions started to become a regular part of my life. My 20s in Madison, Wisconsin added kayaks to the mix as we explored the region’s ample lakes and streams. In Maine for the last 10 years, my family has grown alongside my passion for being outdoors and exploring – it is something I’ve been able to share in real time with my family, learning together along the way.

A brown metal locker box on legs with coolers and food inside.
Bear-resistant food storage at Lunksoos Camps.

The rustic nature of Katahdin Woods & Waters can present some challenges on the surface, but the rewards are endless. There are no crowds and lines, no stress about parking. The camping infrastructure at Lunksoos is brand new and just enough in all the right ways – thank you, bear-resistant food storage!

And then there is the land itself.

What’s unique in KAWW is the feeling that the land will set the agenda for you. It will slow you down, and invite you to stop and look around and savor. This landscape doesn’t come with a bucket-list, though we have some bucket-list worthy views. The reward here is the satisfaction of exploration itself. That may make your monument excursion somewhat inscrutable, but it also makes more exploring irresistible.

A wide river with green overhanging trees and grass in it.
Morning mist on the East Branch.

Tenth Annual Stars Over Katahdin Event Returns October 14th

Patten, ME – Registration is now open for the 10th Annual Stars Over Katahdin, presented by Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters on Saturday, October 14th. The event celebrates the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River with opportunities to explore the night sky guided by expert astronomers, state-of-the-art telescopes, and National Park Service Night Sky Rangers. With activities running from 12pm until 10pm at Taylor’s Katahdin View Camps, attendees will also have the chance to view a partial solar eclipse and participate in campfire chats.

“For ten years, some of those before the monument was established, volunteers and community members have been highlighting these exceptional dark skies at the Stars Over Katahdin event,” said Kala Rush, Education Director. “Thanks to our community and this event, we now have an International attraction that uplifts a local wonder and every year brings people to the Katahdin Region.”

The free event is made possible by Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters (FKWW) and its sponsors, including Richardson’s Hardware and Maine Beer Company. FKWW is an official philanthropic partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. In 2020, the Monument was designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, only the second such designation within the National Park Service and the first in Maine and New England.

Food will be available for purchase on site from Oak Creek Smokery, and camping is available for a $10 cash fee paid upon arrival.  Taylor’s Katahdin View Camps is located at the start of Swift Brook Road in Stacyville, Maine.

A view of the Milky Way above a mountain. People in the foreground are looking at telescopes.
Photo credit John Meader
A group of poeople sitting in camp chairs around a campfire and woman speaking.
Campfire chats. Photo credit John Meader