Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Conservation interests have been promoting national park creation in Maine ever since the early 1900s. The only successful push for a national park in the state culminated one hundred years ago in the creation of today’s Acadia National Park in 1916. In the last century, Maine’s North Woods have been the site of four distinct national park debates. Mt. Katahdin was the subject of a hotly contested park proposal in the 1930s, as was the Allagash River in the 1950s and 60s. In 1994 a group called RESTORE: The North Woods began promoting a widely opposed 3.2 million-acre national park in the North Woods region. Today, fervent debate surrounds a proposal by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. for a much smaller national park in the area. This thesis will demonstrate that today’s public park debate is unique in that both park supporters and opponents appeal primarily to economic development arguments to justify their positions. Why is this and what are the repercussions of this particular public framing of the debate? This thesis will answer these questions through a combination of historical archival research into past park debates and contemporary interviews concerning today’s debate, allowing me to trace the various value systems that have been a part of each of Maine’s historical and contemporary park debates. As it turns out, the particular class and geographic dynamics of conservation in Maine are critical to understanding the focus on economic development in today’s debate, and this framing has serious negative consequences.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Miller, Ethan

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.