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.

Strategic Plan

In 2018, we adopted the following three-year strategic plan.

A National Treasure

On August 24, 2016 President Barack Obama established the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument encompassing 87,000 acres east of Baxter State Park, in the heart of Maine’s North Woods.  In the proclamation designating the Monument, the President identifies the “objects of historic or scientific interest” protected by the designation, including significant natural, cultural, and historic features.  The Monument offers spectacular views of Mt. Katahdin, sweeping views of distant lakes, and special ecological features such as peatlands, spruce-fir and beech-birch-maple forests, unbroken shorelines, an absence of human-made noise, and dark, starry skies.  It provides economic benefit to the Katahdin region, spurring investments while permanently protecting more than 30 miles of pristine rivers and streams and important habitat for wildlife, including species of conservation concern.

The Monument offers abundant outdoor recreation activities.  The Penobscot River’s East Branch, Wassataquoik Stream, and Seboeis River, provide more than 30 miles of waters for fishing and whitewater and quiet water paddling.  Seven mountains feature favorite hiking routes.  The Monument provides essential habitat for diverse wildlife, including iconic Maine species like moose, black bear, and deer.  Birds abound and include “specialty” species birders travel across the country to see.  The deeds transferring the lands for the Monument welcome hunting to the east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, and snowmobile use on the Interconnected Trail System through the Monument.

The Monument and surrounding communities are steeped in stories that continue to this day.  The East Branch is the traditional territory of the Penobscots and homeland to the Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, and Passamaquoddy.  The forests and waterways provided the foundation for the region’s storied logging industry.  Theodore Roosevelt grew physically strong and deepened his love of the outdoors through transformative experiences here, and Henry David Thoreau found inspiration for his seminal work, The Maine Woods, in which he called for national preservation of wild areas for all to enjoy.

Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters

Friends organizations offer a direct way for all to care for our national treasures, adding a margin of excellence beyond what the Park Service can achieve without such private sector support.

Like Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument sprang full-blown from private philanthropy—a word that means “love of humankind generally.” This stunning gift to the nation and Maine challenges citizens to appreciate and steward the natural, recreational and cultural bounty of the northern wilds. By engaging people in protecting these civic assets, Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters works to extend and magnify the tradition of selflessness and generosity that informed the Monument’s creation.

A. Accessible Visitor Information and Experience
Park visitors will have easy access to information about the Monument and gateway communities, have exceptional experiences connecting with the natural, recreational and cultural features of the Monument, and enjoy opportunities for in-depth learning and engagement.

FKWW Three-Year Objectives
  1. Develop and promote a series of visitor orientation and interpretive maps and guides, using print and digital formats.
    • Provide input, print, and distribute National Park Service (NPS) Unigrid-style brochures through support and partnership with National Park Foundation (NPF).
    • Publish an updated Loop Road interpretive map.
    • Facilitate publishing of a recreational trail map.
    • Identify and promote useful maps and guides created by others.
    • Identify and develop one – three additional maps, rack cards or guidebooks to encourage and support visitation and specific visitor experiences.
  2. Identify and promote a catalogue of publications that introduce and enrich understanding of the natural and cultural history of the Monument and surrounding region.
    • Set cataloging criteria for inclusion and promote publications that already exist.
    • Consider support or co-publication of one or more updated or new volumes.
  3. Assure regular distribution of Monument visitor information to priority online, physical and person-to-person information sources in Maine and beyond.
  4. Partner to develop multi-day educational visitor experiences.
B. Monument Development and Access

Public enjoyment of the Monument and its long term conservation will be supported through partnerships with the National Park Service and others in Monument planning and development, land and water access to the Monument, and beneficial designations.

FKWW Three-Year Objectives
  1. Maintain a collaborative relationship with NPS Monument staff, particularly the KWW Superintendent, through regular communication, clear roles, and accountability.
  2. Participate in the NPS process to create the Monument Management Plan by informing Friends’ members about issues and providing direct input for Park Service consideration and decision-making.
  3. Engage with the NPS and NPF to identify and potentially support priority Monument infrastructure needs, which may include Mile 6.5 Loop Road Overlook, Wassataquoik Trail Head, Barnard Mountain Trail Head, Deasey Pond/Esker Trail Head, and Monument North Gate.
  4. Collaborate with Elliotsville Plantation on the potential exercise of Reserved Rights on Monument lands to make infrastructure improvements and to use properties as indicated in the various deeds conveyed for the creation of the Monument.
  5. Provide logistical support for area NPS operations such as regional Visitor Contact Centers and NPS administrative offices at the Friends’ Patten House, and assist with contracting for necessary goods and services through partnership with and support from the NPF.
  6. Participate in initiatives to improve and expand signage, local road and water access, and recreational trails to the Monument from gateway communities and neighboring lands.
  7. Help to facilitate NPS acquisition of land, conservation easements, and deeded public access to improve the Monument.
  8. Monitor opportunities and, when timely, pursue beneficial designations including Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Heritage Area, and National Park status.
C. Katahdin Region Revitalization

Katahdin region communities will realize direct economic value and educational benefits because of the Monument and will engage broadly with its natural, recreational and cultural features.

Three-year FKWW Objectives
  1. Partner with the NPS, NPF, and area K-12 schools to advance place-based education in the Katahdin region with funding support through the Katahdin Endowment at NPF.
    • Coordinate NPF-supported community programs.
    • Provide leadership to create a long-range plan for place-based education in the region.
  2. Work with the NPS to develop a multi-faceted volunteer program.
  3. Support and participate in events that promote visitorship to the Monument and the region such as Stars Over Katahdin, the Millinocket Marathon & Half, Fiddlers & Fiddleheads, and Trail’s End Festival.
  4. Develop strong relationships with local municipalities, businesses, regional collaboratives, tribes and user groups.
  5. Respond to interests of colleges and universities in utilizing the Monument as a curricular, research or internship resource.
  6. Consider co-sponsoring one or more conferences of interest groups related to the historical, cultural, scientific, recreational or conservation values of the Monument.
D. Broad Awareness and Support

The Monument will be recognized as a natural, recreational and cultural treasure, and be supported financially in Maine, nationally and internationally.

Three-year FKWW Objectives
  1. Implement an active, ongoing digital media presence.
    • Make the Friends’ website a prime resource for people interested in visiting or supporting the Monument.
    • Use social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for ongoing updates and interaction about the Monument and activities in the region.
    • Implement strategies for effective Search Engine Optimization.
  2. Establish the Friends’ brand as the primary and essential support organization for the Monument.
    • Achieve year-over-year increases in membership, annual appeal, major gifts and grants to establish stable funding beyond the Friends’ start-up period.
    • Consider developing a program for sales of branded merchandise.
    • Participate in select regional or national events to promote the Monument.
    • Hold an annual event commemorating the establishment of the Monument.
    • Seek periodic feature or op-ed coverage in support of specific Monument programs, initiatives or issues.
  3. Communicate regularly with state and federal elected officials, engage in direct advocacy, and mobilize citizens in support of the Monument and National Park Service.
  4. Collaborate with state and regional conservation organizations such as NRCM, Friends of Baxter and Friends of Acadia, and participate in national organizations such as Friends Alliance, Public Lands Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association and others.
E. Organizational Excellence

Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters will pursue excellence in mutually supportive relationships with the National Park Service, National Park Foundation and other partners, and will demonstrate exemplary leadership, governance, management and impact.

Three-year FKWW Objectives
  1. Execute an official Philanthropic Partnership Agreement with the NPS, develop annual work plans in concert with the NPS, and codify a NPF Master Agreement for ongoing projects.
  2. Establish Standing Committees:
    • Executive: policy recommendations to the Board, take actions in accord with authority delegated by Board, oversight of Executive Director priorities and performance.
    • Governance: bylaws review, board development, nominating.
    • Finance: budget development, ongoing financial monitoring and reporting.
    • Programs & Projects: criteria and a responsive, efficient process for considering the numerous opportunities presented to the Friends.
    • Lands & Connectivity: land acquisition, easements, local road access, and recreational trails.
    • Development: donor cultivation, major gifts, foundation support, fundraising appeals and events.
  3. Implement Special Task Forces:
    • NPF Liaison: ongoing collaboration with the NPF on uses and enhancement of Monument endowment.
    • Cooperating Association: determine whether to seek designation and follow-up accordingly.
  4. Phase in initial staffing plan with Executive Director (1 FTE), Operations Coordinator (1 FTE), Position TBD (1 FTE) and outsourced tech support and bookkeeping; consider modifications or additions to staffing as programs, operations, and finances develop.
  5. Develop a set of Guiding Principles for the conduct of all FKWW operations and activities.
  6. Apply best practices for nonprofit organizations including facilities management, risk management and insurance, human resources, finance, legal requirements and annual reporting, ongoing strategic planning, and dashboard monitoring of organizational performance.