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