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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ecologist and Open Space Advocate George Wuerthner commenting on the ongoing effort that he and RESTORE THE NORTH WOODS(Michael Kellett and Jim St. Pierre) have made seeking to create a new MAINE WOODS STATE PARK..................With former Bert Bees owner Roxanne Quimby and her ELLIOTSVILLE PLANTATION INC. transferring over 87,000 acres of land to the Federal Government on Tuesday, the "bells seem to ringing" in advance of a likely President Obama Executive Order creating a new NORTH WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT..............As NY Yankee Hall of Fame Catcher always said: "It's not over till its over".................Nonetheless,I am going to go out on the limb hoping that this Monument will indeed become a reality, "tipping my hat" to Mr, Kellett, Mr. St. Pierre and Mr.Wuerthner---All who I now call a friend and who work tirelessly for the rewilding of our Country.............As George put it recently, "There is no place else outside of Alaska where so much land is essentially undeveloped, though not entirely untouched, and some want to keep it that way by creating a 3.2-million-acre Maine Woods National Park".............This Quimby charter donation of land could one day morph out large enough to restore the Eastern Wolf, Puma, Caribou, Elk and Atlantic Salmon,,,,,, large enough to expand the toehold habitat that the Lnyx has carved out in the state

From: George Wuerthner []
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:46 AM
Subject: Fwd: Maine Woods NM likely to occur. Quimby transfers land to Federal Government

Dear all:
Since 1991 I, along with RESTORE, have been working to create a national park in the Maine Woods. As board chair of RESTORE this is terrific news. I suspect once people realize the sky has not fallen, we will be able to add substantially to the monument to create the large 3.2 million acre vision we have been promoting for decades. I'm so excited!!!! Thanks for Roxanne for taking the first step in creation of a Maine Woods NP. 

Roxanne Quimby transfers 87,000 acres planned for national monument to US government

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 23, 2016, at 12:01 p.m. 

BANGOR, Maine — The company owned by the family of Roxanne Quimby transferred more than 87,000 acres of land to the federal government on Tuesday, strongly indicating a North Woods national monument will soon be designated by President Barack Obama.
Susan F. Bulay of the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds confirmed the 13 deeds passing the 87,563 acres from Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. to what was listed simply as "The United States of America" came in at 10:10 a.m.
Copies of the deeds indicate the land is situated east of Baxter State Park. The deeds for the individual parcels were signed by Quimby as the grantor and by Rachel McManus, deputy realty officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, as the grantee. The total acreage is nearly twice the size of Maine's Acadia National Park.
Attempts to contact Quimby, co-founder of Burt's Bees, Elliotsville Plantation, the National Park Service and the White House were not immediately successfulTuesday.

Obama's executive order creating the monument is expected to bring many new jobs to the Katahdin region, an area decimated by the collapse of the paper industry. The monument designation also will help millionaire Quimby realize her dream to leave a legacy of land available for public use that could one day become a national park.
No one has studied the potential impact of the new monument on Maine, but monuments in other states have helped their communities. A study performed by the national advocacy group Small Business Majority indicated that 10 monuments created by the Obama administration have had an economic impact of $156 million since he began designating them in 2011.
The new monument would be the nation's 151st since 1906 and the 25th Obama has designated since 2011, according to a National Park Service listingOf the nation's 58 national parks, 36 began as monuments, including Maine's Acadia National Park.

If the deeds transfer does signal the monument designation, the president's announcement would be the culmination of a campaign that began at least as far back as April 2015, when a lobbyist employed by Lucas St. Clair, Quimby's son, began working with National Park Service and White House officials.
But Quimby's quest to federally protect Maine's northern woods took root more than a decade earlier, when she began buying land near Baxter State Park in 2001. Quimby announced for the first time publicly in 2011 some of the details of her dream — that she intended to donate approximately 70,000 family-owned acres east of Baxter as a national park.
St. Clair took control of the campaign late the next year, after it drew almost universal opposition from local and state government, sportsmen's and forest products industry groups but applause from several environmental and business organizations.

Proponents said a park would generate 400 to 1,000 jobs, be maintained by $40 million in private endowments, diversify a Katahdin region economy devastated by the closure of two paper mills, coexist with traditional industries and operate with local oversight.
Opponents argued that a park would bring unwanted federal encroachment into Maine, cramp forest products industries with tighter air-quality restrictions, generate only low-paying jobs and restrict sportsmen's access to the Katahdin region.
Despite a debate in which both sides spoke past each other almost constantly, St. Clair earned more endorsements. And a May 2015 poll of 500 residents in Maine's northern congressional district showed that 67 percent favored a park.
But that was not enough to spur a bill from U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins or U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents southern Maine, supports the park and monument but congresspeople traditionally author bills for their own areas.
Only Congress can create national parks, but presidents can issue executive orders to create monuments.

King, however, had already effectively revived the park debate. Millinocket officials disclosed in February 2015 that he had sought their requirements for a park should congressional delegates write legislation seeking one. That brought about special elections later that year in which East Millinocket and Medway residents strongly opposed the park. Patten voters opposed the park and monument in April.
The shadow of Quimby, a self-made millionaire, has hung over both campaigns. Her tendency to evict leaseholders, prevent hunting and snowmobiling on her lands since she started buying them quickly drew the disapproval of Mainers long used to "traditional-rights access" — the somewhat oxymoronic term for residents' use of privately owned land for their own recreation.
Quimby typically denies forestry, hunting, snowmobiling, ATV riding and similar activities on her lands but does allow hiking and other passive recreation activities.
But others said Quimby was merely among the first of a new breed of Maine landowner, a private investor unconnected to the forest-products industry, which for decades allowed leased cabins and recreation in working forests.

Quimby, they said, was a devout environmentalist responding to a deteriorating world ecology. Her wealth would be used for the greater good by her seeking to preserve as much of the approximately 10 million acres of North Maine woods — the largest tract of undivided woodlands east of the Mississippi River — as she could. St. Clair placed the family's total investment at about $100 million.
Proponents wondered why the Katahdin region would hesitate to embrace something that generates economic activity. It didn't help her campaign that public trust of the federal government is at record lows, at least according to one Gallup poll. Probably the single greatest reason the park campaign bill has yet to be written, that distrust remains strong.


From: Michael Kellett []
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 2:26 PM
Subject: A primer on the national monument debate from RESTORE: the North Woods to today, BDN 20160823

A primer on the national monument debate from RESTORE: the North Woods to today

Bangor Daily News
Posted Aug. 23, 2016, at 12:59 p.m.

A national park is first proposed for Maine — June 8, 1994

A 3.2 million acre national park was proposed by RESTORE: The North Woods. The proposal was met with immediate opposition — and mockery — from the state’s forest products industry and landowners.

What kind of North Woods does Maine really want? — April 25, 1996

Jym St. Pierre, the Maine director of RESTORE: The North Woods, in an OpEd to the Bangor Daily News wrote that a “reasonable balance” of private and public land ownership needed to be struck in order to preserve the wildness of the Maine woods for future generations. He cast the movement to create a national park and preserve as following the legacy of Percival Proctor Baxter and as a legacy to passed on into the 21st century.
“With undying hope, fierce will and good luck, we can still protect and restore big wildness in Maine. The first step is respectful, open public discourse about the kind of north woods we want,” he wrote.

Private landownership is best — Sept. 26, 1998

“We do not need any more federal ownership or control in Maine. National parks and their likes are single-use areas with no timber harvesting and limited access. Maine hunting, fishing and snowmobiling as we know it would be history,” David Clement wrote in an OpEd to the Bangor Daily News.
“Let’s be happy we have private ownership in Maine and work to welcome and work with the new owners of the Sappi lands. We already have a bad rap for not being friendly to private business. Federal or large state ownership just enhances this perception.”

RESTORE touts business support for national park — Aug. 21, 1999

In a symbolic effort to showcase support for its national park effort to Maine’s congressional delegation, RESTORE touted that 75 area businesses had signed petitions supporting its work. There was one problem: Representatives from the environmental group did not bring the petitions to the unveiling in Bangor and only one of the four businesses from the Queen City that signed petitions were at the press conference.

Moosehead residents say no to park — Sept. 1, 2000

The 3.2 million acre proposed national park routinely has met opposition from residents in central and northern Maine. At a meeting in the Moosehead Lake region, many of the 200 residents who turned out voiced their opposition to the proposal.

Park idea called threat to unions — Sept. 5, 2000

A national park often has been cast a threat to the state’s forest products industry. With support for a park resurfacing in 2000, opponents sought to cast it as the latest threat to unionized workers.

New poll shows support for park — Sept. 14, 2000

A survey conducted by RKM Research and Communications Inc. for WCHS-TV in Portland and WLBZ-TV in Bangor found that 56 percent of respondents supported the creation of a North Woods park. Polls purporting to showcase widespread support for a national park in the state contrast heavily with the vocal opposition from residents in towns adjacent to the area under consideration.

North Woods park plan blasted in Millinocket — Oct. 4, 2000

Opponents of a RESTORE’s proposal for a 3.2 million acre national park in the North Woods turned out for a special town meeting in Millinocket to reject the plan from the out-of-state group.
“I am glad so many of you are letting it be known that people who live and work in Maine’s forests do not need any out-of-state group deciding how to be good stewards of the forest,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement read by a spokeswoman at the meeting.

Largest conservation easement in America signed — March 21, 2001

The RESTORE proposal lead to increased interest in land conservation in Maine. Over the course of a decade, several million acres of timberland were preserved through easements or purchases by land trusts and other conservation groups.

Report says park would aid region, restore opponents reject forecast— Sept. 10, 2001

With the timber industry in decline, an economist from the University of Montana said a national park in the region would bring much needed economic vitality to the state. In September 2001, Thomas Power, chair of the economics department at the University of Montana, unveiled a report showcasing the economic benefits of a park. That report was commissioned by RESTORE.

Study: North Woods a private affair — March 29, 2003

The odds of the public gaining control of a larger share of the North Woods was unlikely through at least 2020, throwing cold water on the hopes that a large national park would become a reality, according to a study conducted by William Beardsley, then president of Husson College. That study based its findings on the predictions of forest products industry officials and private landowners, most of whom remained anonymous.

Celebs join effort for North Woods park — May 5, 2003

In spring 2003, RESTORE touted a list of big-name celebrities who joined a committee to push for the creation of a 3.2-million acre national park.
Among the A-list celebrities were Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Holly Hunter, Laura Linney, Robert Redford, Ted Danson, Christopher Reeve, Meryl Streep and Sam Waterston.

‘No park’ army rallies in protest; opponents mock North Woods plan — June 30, 2003

Opponents of a national park gathered in Millinocket to sing the protest songs of Matthew Heintz, “the North Woods Balladeer,” drink a little Moxie and rally against federal land ownership.

Quimby buys land for a national park — Nov. 25, 2003

Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt’s Bees and a former RESTORE board member, began buying land she hoped to donate for the creation of a national park more than a decade ago.
Quimby continued to buy land that she hoped to turn over to the park service for a national park, which would be much smaller than the RESTORE proposal.

Roxanne Quimby sees mood changing on North Woods park — June 5, 2011

Roxanne Quimby had been a supporter of the creation of a national park in the Maine woods since RESTORE: North Woods first proposed one in the 1990s. In 2011, Quimby unveiled a smaller 70,000-acre version of a national park proposal in 2011.
“I still love the vision of a 3.2 million-acre national park in Maine,” Roxanne Quimby said during an extensive interview back in 2011, “but I know it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. This is what I can do now.”

Quimby says national park would create tourism jobs — July 18, 2011

Opponents to a national park going back to the 1990s have long argued that it would threaten the forest products industry and the jobs it supports. Quimby sought to change the debate by touting the ability of a national park to create jobs and bring diversity to the region’s economy.

Quimby irks Mainers with derogatory comments about state — Oct. 7, 2011

Quimby’s name became a dirty word in rural northern Maine — many trucks sported “Ban Roxanne” stickers. She further irked Mainers with a 2011 interview with Forbes magazine, in which she called Maine “a welfare state” full of obese and elderly people.

Penobscot County commissioners oppose Quimby park plan — Aug. 21, 2012

Not seeing persuasive evidence that towns adjacent to national parks enjoyed prosperity, the Penobscot County commissioners voted 2-1 to oppose to creation of a national park in the North Woods.

Quimby takes park plan off the table, son says — Dec. 11, 2012

The family said at the time it would still like to see a national park in northern Maine, but it withdrew its proposal submitted to the National Park Service and began pursuing other options.

A new spokesman and a new plan — Dec. 12, 2012

The park plan was briefly dropped in 2012, after Lucas St. Clair took over the family’s private land conservation foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. He said the family needed time to craft a proposal that would be acceptable to more people.

Park would be economic boost — Feb. 14, 2013

St. Clair was soon back to touting the park plan, with an emphasis on economic development.

Cutler tells Katahdin region business groups not to rule out a national park — April 24, 2014

The national park made an appearance into the 2014 gubernatorial race, with independent Eliot Cutler pledging to lead an effort to revitalize the park plan if elected.

National park concept wins Bangor council endorsement — March 23, 2015

After much discussion, the Bangor City Council came out 7-2 in support of the concept of a national park and national recreation area in the Katahdin region.

200 Maine businesses endorse proposed Katahdin area national park — March 26, 2015

More than 200 businesses from around the state endorsed a proposed 150,000-acre national park and recreation area in the Katahdin region, saying it would provide a needed boost to the state’s economy.

New poll shows strong support for national park — June 2, 2015

Park supporters unveiled a poll touting wide support for a national park, including among 67 percent of respondents who lived in the 2nd Congressional District, the location of a proposed park. Since the poll was released, it has become widely cited by supporters of both a park and a monument.

National park debate turns focus on land ownership questions — June 17, 2015

A proposal for 150,000 national park and national recreation area east of Baxter sparked some controversy when it came to light not all the acreage in its boundaries was owned by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. Park supporters said this figure was only meant to describe the upper limit of its size, not an actual measurement of the land included in the proposal. Opponents seized on this, saying advocates for a park were misleading the public.

224 businesses come out against Katahdin region national park — June 18, 2015

In one of the largest displays of opposition to a proposal floated by St. Clair for a national park in the North Woods, 224 businesses signed onto a list, saying they didn’t want to see a park come to fruition.

Bangor Daily News endorses national park — Nov. 6, 2015

“The proposed national park and recreation area will not cure the Katahdin region’s economic woes, but it can be a focal point of its remaking with benefits spreading to Bangor and beyond,” the editorial board wrote.
“Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. This would be an ideal time to add a small part of Maine’s famed North Woods to a system with a globally unprecedented legacy of preservation,” it concluded.

St. Clair: National monument could be step toward park — Nov. 16, 2015

“A national monument instead of a national park is not our goal,” Lucas St. Clair said during a phone interview Nov. 11. “Our goal remains the same. However, a national monument is an interim step to get us to our goal. It’s a very common way [for national parks to develop], specifically as an interim step, but our goal remains the same.”

Collins, King, Poliquin express serious reservations about North Woods national monument — Nov. 23, 2015

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin wrote a four-page letter to Obama last November, urging him to refrain from signing an executive order placing the monument designation on about 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park and use federal authority to aid the region’s economy.

Sierra Club Maine to support national monument as step to park — Jan. 6, 2016

“A national monument carries the same protections as a national park,” Jim Frick of Bangor, a Sierra Club Maine executive committee member who works on Maine Woods issues, said. “And it could be an interim step toward the eventual creation of a park.”

New logo shows organizers focused on North Woods national monument — March 21, 2016

In March, Lucas St. Clair showcased a logo for a North Woods national monument as his focus shifted toward attaining a monument designation for land owned by Elliotsville Plantation Inc.

Proposed national park is unnecessary, the land is undeserving — March 28, 2016

With the proposal for park shifting into a monument, the debate shifted to raise the question about whether the land in question actually deserved the designation. Land under consideration for a park or monument ought to be of high value or uniqueness to be included within the National Park System. Barry Burgason, a wildlife biologist for Huber Corp., argued in an OpEd to the Bangor Daily News that the land owned by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. was undeserving of the status of a park.

LePage’s national monument ban passes House, Senate — April 7, 2016

A bid to block the creation of a national monument in Maine passed by a narrow margin in the Maine House and Senate. The bill, LD 1600, proposed by Gov. Paul LePage and sponsored by Rep. Stanley Stephen, D-Medway, requires that the Legislature give consent to the federal government to name a national monument in the state. LePage signed it into law on April 12.

Why the path to a North Woods national monument could run through Portland — April 12, 2016

Greater Portland may have the population and economic base to tip the scales in the controversial national monument debate — even though the region is hours away from the land in question and many people neighboring the property have said they don’t want it to fall into federal hands.

Patten residents reject national park and monument in vote — April 19, 2016

Residents voted 121-53, with three abstentions, against supporting a proposed national park in a nonbinding referendum.

Maine people weigh in on proposed national monument at packed forums in Orono, East Millinocket — May 16, 2016

After a tense forum involving Katahdin region leaders in East Millinocket, where speakers were almost universally opposed to the proposal, the audience at a public meeting at UMaine’s Collins Center for the Arts showed overwhelming support for the proposal, revealing the stark differences of opinion on the subject held by people around the state.

Utah lawmaker: Maine will suffer if Obama designates national monument — June 1, 2016

Back in June, Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, visited Maine at the request of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Bishop is an opponent of national monuments, and he hoped the testimony gathered would dissuade the president from naming a national monument via executive order.

How will visitors get to a North Woods national monument — June 10, 2016

Skeptics of the national monument often turned their attention to the practical details about the proposal. For instance, how will visitors get there? Can the roads to the national monument handle traffic from the forest products industry and visitors to the region?

Acadia was Maine’s first monument. Here’s what it means for the North Woods — July 11, 2016

A century ago, President Woodrow Wilson established a national monument on Mount Desert Island that became the Acadia National Park we all know today. Here are five things Mainers should know as Obama weighs whether to name a national monument in Maine.

What Maine can learn from other states with national monuments — Aug. 2, 2016

Maine is far from the first state to face the creation of a national monument. President Barack Obama has designated 22 monuments since he took office. With a proposed monument in the North Woods, Maine can learn several lessons from other states’ experiences.

A Park that Begs Creating

If you climb to the summit of Borestone Mountain in northern Maine and scan the northern horizon, what you see is a vast, sweeping expanse of forest and mountains, punctuated by lakes and rivers. What you don’t see are cities, highways, smokestacks, or anything at all that can be construed as a town or village.
photo of a lake and mountian, forest in full Autumn color in the middle distancephoto George Wuerthner
A Maine Woods National Park could protect a landscape large enough to 
support viable 
populations of wide-ranging predators like the wolf, and restore habitat for 
endangered wildlife like the Atlantic salmon and lynx.

There is no place else outside of Alaska where so much land is essentially undeveloped, though not entirely untouched, and some want to keep it that way by creating a 3.2-million-acre Maine Woods National Park.
The analogy to Alaska is quite accurate, as much of the vegetation and wildlife in this region is remarkably similar to the 49th state. Forests of paper birch, aspen, and spruce, along with hardwoods like sugar maples, cover the land. Moose, black bear, lynx, and marten roam the woodlands. Species like caribou and wolves were also once found here, and some hope can be restored in the future.
According to some estimates there is a 10-million-acre core area in northern Maine without a single town or other permanent outpost of civilization. To put that into perspective, that is an area three times the size of the state of Connecticut. Even in the most remote parts of the West, you would be hard pressed to find any place equally devoid of human habitation. For decades nearly all of this land was owned by timber companies. The land is not untouched, as much of it has been logged and graded for roads. But trees grow back quickly here, and the evidence of logging disappears within decades.
Room for More
There is no better time to put forward a bold vision of an expanded park system.
America’s national park system greeted a record-breaking 307 million visitors in 2015. Even more visitors are expected in 2016, inspired by the publicity surrounding the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. Skyrocketing park attendance has brought welcome economic benefits to local communities, but it has also created new challenges. A number of famous parks are regularly experiencing overcrowding, which can diminish the visitor experience and damage portions of our parks.
Some observers warn that our national parks are being “loved to death.” In fact, most public use is focused on a small percentage of well-known or easily accessible destinations, such as California’s Yosemite Valley, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain in Maine. While sites like these experience the greatest visitor impacts, the majority of parks remain more lightly visited, and more than 50 percent of national parklands are designated wilderness areas.

Unlike in the western United States where nearly all national parks have been carved from existing federal lands, nearly all public lands in the eastern US had to be bought. Treasured landscapes like Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, Acadia National Park on the Maine Coast, or even national forests like New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest or George Washington National Forest in Virginia were all acquired with public funds or through donation by private philanthropy.
In the 1990s, as the logging industry slowed down, land ownership in the Maine Woods began to change rapidly. Responding to these new realities, RESTORE: The North Woods, a conservation group based in Maine, created a legislative proposal for a 3.2-million-acre Maine Woods National Park and Preserve. The proposal includes the “Hundred Mile Wilderness” section of the Appalachian Trail, the Gulf Hagas old growth forests, and Moosehead Lake – the largest freshwater lake wholly in one state east of the Mississippi that is the headwaters of some of Maine’s most famous and iconic rivers including the Allagash, the West Branch of the Penobscot, and the St. Johns.
The biggest attribute of Maine Woods is just sheer space. A Maine Woods National Park could protect a landscape large enough to support viable populations of wide-ranging predators like the wolf and restore habitat for endangered wildlife like the Atlantic salmon and lynx. Groups as diverse as the Appalachian Mountain Club,The Nature Conservancy, and Northeast Wilderness Trust, as well as the state of Maine, have acquired lands or conservation easements on much of the landscape within the proposed park.
The most significant acquisitions have been purchased by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby, best known for creating Burt’s Bee products, who began to actively acquire lands within the Maine Woods. At present she has amassed approximately 87,000 acres adjacent to the existing 200,000-acre Baxter State Park that she is generously prepared to donate for a national park or monument, with plans to acquire another 70,000 or so for a national recreation area or park preserve.
Similar donations by other philanthropists have led to the creation of such American icons as Grand Teton National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and others.

But both RESTORE and Quimby have run into local opposition to any federal park designation in the region. Maine’s Congressional delegation remains either opposed or largely ambivalent to the park idea. However, a majority of Mainers as a whole do support a new national park in the Maine Woods, though there’s some debate about how large the park area should be. At present, a Maine Woods National Park utilizing the lands offered by Quimby is on a short list of places that President Barack Obama may designate as new national monuments.
Due to an extraordinary set of circumstances – the changing timber industry, land sales, and thus far limited development – the Maine Woods presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a truly internationally significant, landscape-scale ecological reserve in the Maine Woods that may not come again.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist and author who has published 38 books including many dealing with national parks.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"if you have mature oaks and abundant deer, realize that whitetails can prevent the oaks from regenerating:............"Whether you cut them for lumber or watch them die of old age, they might be the last of their species".............."(The) scientific evidence that deer often make it impossible to regenerate oaks, even in areas with wolves and harsh, deer-killing winters (is irrefutable)"..............Bayfield County, Wisconsin's deer herd(like so much of Eastern North America) has been overpopulated for much of the past 30 years, so traditional oak-growing systems simply produce deer food, not trees"........."(Proof positive of this fact is the fact that) after harvesting the oaks in one 35-acre test parcel in 2001 and burning it in 2005, the patch grew thick with oak saplings by 2008".............. "And deer loved it"............ "By 2013, after eight growing seasons, 90 percent of the 3,798 young, heavily browsed oaks stood only 1 foot or less tall, and 10 percent were between 1 and 2 feet tall"................. "None stood 2.1 feet or taller".............. "Normally, red oak in that region grow 1 to 2 feet annually, and stand taller than men by their sixth growing season".................And yet the hunters, whether they be in Wisconsin, Maine, Virginia or Alabama continue to overrule the professional forester, getting them to put more deer in the forest......Case in point---"(Wisconsin's) post-hunt deer population in 2015 was nearly 1.2 million deer, which is nearly twice the sound goal for winter"

Patrick Durkin: North Woods oaks don't stand chance against deer herd

August 20, 2016
For all the accusations we hear about too many wolves and careless deer management in northern Wisconsin, many areas still have enough whitetails to jeopardize the North Woods’ once-robust oak stands.

In fact, some foresters think it’s time to simply cave in to hunters’ demands for more deer and quit trying to manage forests for this lucrative hardwood, which woodland owners have long cherished.
They say if you have mature oaks and abundant deer, realize that whitetails can prevent the oaks from regenerating.Whether you cut them for lumber or watch them die of old age, they might be the last of their species.

That was the message heard in late July from two “oak huggers” who addressed the Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Association’s annual conference in Eagle River.
Dave Clausen of Amery, a former Natural Resources Board chairman; and Mike Amman, the forester for Bayfield County’s Forestry and Parks Department, concede they’re minority voices in Wisconsin’s long-running deer debates. Both serve on their respective County Deer Advisory Councils, and both were outvoted this spring by fellow CDAC members who want more deer in Polk and Bayfield counties.
Still, Clausen and Amman stand their ground, citing scientific evidence that deer often make it impossible to regenerate oaks, even in areas with wolves and harsh, deer-killing winters.

Amman is responsible for Bayfield County’s 169,400 acres of county forest, which is open to public hunting. Clausen owns and manages about 450 acres of woodlands in Polk County, and 10 people besides him hunt it. Even with antlerless tags and crop-damage tags they can’t kill enough deer to grow oaks.
Amman said Bayfield County’s county-owned forests hold 14,867 acres of oak, of which 80 percent is 86 years or older. To regenerate oak, forestry textbooks recommend large-scale logging followed by prescribed burns. That process jump-starts young oaks, which soon cover the forest floor.
Unfortunately, the region’s deer herd has been overpopulated for much of the past 30 years, so traditional oak-growing systems simply produce deer food, not trees. Amman said after harvesting the oaks in one 35-acre test parcel in 2001 and burning it in 2005, the patch grew thick with oak saplings by 2008.

And deer loved it. By 2013, after eight growing seasons, 90 percent of the 3,798 young, heavily browsed oaks stood only 1 foot or less tall, and 10 percent were between 1 and 2 feet tall. None stood 2.1 feet or taller. Normally, red oak in that region grow 1 to 2 feet annually, and stand taller than men by their sixth growing season.
Instead, those sites grow thick stands of sage and bracken ferns. The ferns thickly cover these sites in summer, but leave no food or cover after dying in fall.
What can be done to spare oaks? Well, 8-foot fencing costs about $442 per acre. And if you want to surround each seedling or sapling in a 5-foot tube until it grows beyond the deer’s reach, it costs about $300 per 100 tubes, not including time or labor.

Clausen knows those challenges. He installed wire enclosures around 40 of his young oaks this year, and plans to protect another 100 by spring. Still, that’s like fighting a wildfire with a $50 squirt gun. He showed a photo of a lone oak he planted in 1990-91 with 50,000 other oak seedlings. That tree, which he calls “Lucky,” stands about 25 feet tall and is the planting’s only survivor.
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Browsing deer stunted most of those young oaks, which eventually were shaded out by pines planted at the same time.
“The only thing that works is to cut a stunted oak at ground level and fence it off,” Clausen said. “Stunted oaks have tremendous root systems and produce remarkable growth if you protect their tops, but that’s impractical and too expensive when you’re trying to grow 50,000 trees.”

Even where Wolves are present, Oak regeneration
is being retarded by bloated deer herds

Amman and Clausen don’t expect Wisconsin’s current deer-management program to help, although some folks try. The state’s Deer Species Advisory Committee, for example, includes mostly Department of Natural Resources biologists.
When they recommended antlerless quotas this spring in 28 North Woods counties, they agreed only Iron and Forest counties couldn’t support hunting for does and fawns. The committee said seven counties — Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Florence, Oneida, Sawyer and Vilas — should have antlerless quotas ranging from 200 to 630, but the hunter-run CDAC committees in those counties rejected their advice and voted for zero.
The CDACs in six other counties also voted for lower quotas than biologists recommended: Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Oconto and Rusk.
When the final statewide CDAC recommendations went to the seven-citizen Natural Resources Board for approval in May, no one mentioned the science committee’s recommendations.

Even harsh Winters where there are Wolves present,
do not always dampen deer herds enought to allow
Oak seedlings to flourish

Even so, Clausen keeps arguing his case, but doubts anything will change until farming and forestry interests pressure legislators to restore effective deer-management strategies.
“I sit on Polk County’s CDAC, and I’m under no illusion that we’re managing deer,” Clausen said. “We could issue unlimited bonus tags and still not kill sufficient deer to reach our goal. With the current season structure and hunter attitudes, we’ve lost the ability to control the herd.”
In Bayfield County, the CDAC committee supported Amman’s idea to enroll 10,000 acres of county forest in the state’s new Deer Management Assistance Program to get some antlerless hunting. The county’s forestry committee rejected the plan.
Amman is frustrated but not surprised. “They only hear from hunters who say there’s no deer,” Amman said. “They overrule our paid staff of foresters, even though we’re presenting all this evidence of a problem undercutting the oak’s sustainability. We have an entire industry built on the flow of timber, but before long we’ll have little oak to sell.”
Clausen isn’t surprised either.
“The statewide post-hunt deer population in 2015 was nearly 1.2 million deer, which is nearly twice the sound goal for winter,” he said. “That was also above the post-hunt 2014 herd by 6 percent in the northern forest, 17 percent in the central forest, 6 percent in the central farmlands, and 11 percent in the southern farmland. ... When this (DNR) administration said they were not going to consider numbers in setting deer policy, they were serious.”

Too Many Whitetails?
Photo by Gerry Lemmo.
Bill Schmidt, of Elysian Hills Tree Farm in southeastern Vermont, says his current deer problem is not as bad as it was twenty years ago. Back then, the deer had a habit of congregating in his 20-acre Christmas tree plantation and nibbling certain balsam fir trees down to broomsticks.
While his Christmas trees have been spared of late, his woodlot still bears testament to the uneasy tension between forest health and deer populations. Things aren’t as bad in southern Vermont as they are in, say, suburban Connecticut, where the forests have been fundamentally altered by deer, the forest floor stripped of wildflowers, and saplings overtaken by species that are unpalatable to deer. But a problem does exist.
Schmidt has seen hardwood seedlings – maple, ash, and oak – with the distinctive frayed edges that show a deer has nipped them to the ground with its lower incisors, then ripped the top off with a pull. He’s seen more beech and birch, an increase in hay-scented fern and non-native species such as buckthorn and barberry, none of which deer like to eat. There are forested areas on his 130-acre farm where new trees just cannot get started.
Schmidt manages his land not just for trees but also for the wildlife that lives there. He likes that his property is home to deer but would prefer that there were fewer of them.
The perception gap
Around northern New England and upstate New York, many landowners, foresters, and wildlife enthusiasts have similarly conflicting feelings about deer. The million-dollar question is: how many deer are too many? Is it when the population density reaches a certain number, like 16 or 20 deer per square mile? Is it when hunters complain that the deer are too skinny and that there are no trophy bucks? Is it when the deer population exceeds the habitat’s carrying capacity? Or when environmental impacts, like loss of wildflowers, become noticeable?
It’s none of these things, says Thomas Rawinski, a botanist with the U.S. Forest Service in Durham, New Hampshire, and an expert on deer overabundance. While all are factors, the criterion that tops all others is the cultural carrying capacity: the number of deer that people are happy having around.
“Every person has a different life experience with deer,” says Rawinski. “They may be orchardists or farmers, or they may have had a vehicle collision or Lyme disease.” All of these influences must be included in the process of deciding how many deer there should be. “Wildlife is owned by everybody, so everybody needs to make the decision.”
An example of these differing reactions can be seen on Bill Schmidt’s tree farm. In southeastern Vermont, deer densities have fallen from a high of 40 deer per square mile in the ’60s and ’70s to half that today, according to Shawn Haskell, the deer project leader for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Haskell believes this deer density – roughly 20 deer per square mile – is the right number for a healthy deer population that is in balance with its environment.
Still, a recent public comment period revealed that the region’s foresters would like to see the deer population reduced to a quarter of what it is today. At the same time, hunters in the area are complaining that deer numbers are down; they’re advocating for more deer.
Deer in the headlights
Foresters often have a front-row view of the damage “too many” deer can cause to the landscape. Wildflowers, such as trillium and showy lady’s slippers, can be especially hard hit. “Each adult white-tailed deer eats about 2,000 pounds a year,” says Charlie Fiscella, New York State chapter president of the Quality Deer Management Association “That’s one ton. Go out with clippers and see how long it takes you to clip one ton. It’s hard to do that, especially when the habitat is marginal.”
The Nature Conservancy is just finishing up a study finding that deer are one of the top threats to a healthy forest in New York State, and that oak and maple seedlings are a deer’s favored food source. Since woodlot owners and foresters are also fond of oaks and maples, the deer’s impact is deeply felt. As these commercially valuable hardwood species start disappearing, forest composition can be skewed to favor birch, beech, and hophornbeam.
When deer pressure is overwhelming, you get no seedling regeneration at all. This allows invasive species to fill the void and dominate the ecosystem. As the invasives grow, the deer continue to eat native plants and avoid the invasives, thus giving the invasives a perpetual advantage.
Biologists do caution, however, that deer sometimes get too much blame for bad forest regeneration. In a forest with even-aged trees and an overstory that lets in no light, it may be the tree canopy that’s suppressing the seedling growth. One study found only subtle differences in a deer-free, full-canopy forest plot.
Jeff Ward, chief scientist of the forestry and horticulture section of The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, based in Windsor, Connecticut, has first-hand experience with deer-caused imbalances. “In one study area where there was a ‘high’ deer herd, there was a 100-acre patch that was almost pure Japanese barberry,” says Ward.
Cases when deer do eat invasive plants can be just as much a problem as when they don’t since eating seeds can help the invasives spread. “Several years ago, we gathered over 5,000 deer poops in a greenhouse to see what would grow from them,” said Scott Williams, a deer biologist at the Experiment Station. Thirty-two species of plant that germinated were not native to the state of Connecticut, including Carolina horsenettle, little hogweed, and lambsquarters. “Deer are able to transport hundreds of exotic plant seeds each day to new locations,” said Williams. “That’s one aspect of superabundant deer that people don’t consider.”
As forest composition changes, animals suffer, especially songbirds. The National Audubon Society reports that eastern wood pewees, indigo buntings, least flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, and cerulean warblers are negatively affected when deer populations exceed 20 deer per square mile. At 40 deer per square mile, an area starts to lose eastern phoebes and robins. Ground nesters, including ovenbirds, grouse, woodcock, whippoorwills, and wild turkeys, are vastly reduced.
Clearly, deer influence the environment, but they can also negatively affect our own health and safety. Deer play a role in the spread of Lyme disease, as well as the emerging diseases babesiosis (which has malaria-like symptoms) and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (which has symptoms similar to the flu). They also cause more-direct harm in accidents with vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 150 people are killed in these accidents nationwide each year, while thousands more are injured. Property damage from such collisions totals $1 billion.
Too Many Whitetails? Image
These experimental Pennsylvania patch cuts were done inside an enclosed area with a controlled deer population. Both cuts are 11 years old. Above, the controlled deer population was 10 deer per square mile. Below, 64 per square mile. Note poor regeneration.Photos by Susan Stout/USFS.
What we hold deer
With so many problems caused by deer overabundance, it’s tempting to see the problem as an act of nature, like a lightning strike or a blizzard. But it is humans who are at the root of our deer problems, not nature. The good news is that what we have caused, we have the power to correct.
When mountain lions and wolves were eliminated from the Northeast, human beings became the white-tailed deer’s major predator. Today, coyotes, bobcats, and black bears do prey on white-tailed deer, especially fawns, but most biologists will tell you that in a healthy ecosystem this predation is not a major population check. Similarly, a particularly harsh winter may kill many deer in northern New England, but elsewhere winter weather has a relatively minor effect on the deer population as a whole.
These days, in most of our readership area, hunting by humans determines how many deer there are. For the last several decades, it has been hunters who played the primary role in controlling the deer population. In some places, though, that is no longer the case.
“Today there are fewer hunters, and the hunters are older,” says Rawinski, of the Forest Service. The amount of time each hunter spends in the woods, a statistic called “hunter effort,” has also gone down, perhaps as a result of faster-paced lifestyles, the increased age of the average hunter, or part of the larger cultural trend away from hunting.
That antihunting cultural trend also means more landowners don’t allow it, forcing hunters onto fewer pieces of land, says Fiscella. Deer find smaller hunted parcels easy to avoid, leaving the frustrated hunters behind. Because of this, it is easy for a gardener to suffer from too many deer, while right next door a hunter is complaining about too few.
But even more than land use in rural areas, suburbanization is leading to an increase in deer numbers. “Humans have created a perfect habitat for deer,” Rawinski says of the suburbs.
Gardens and lawns provide wonderful deer food. “[Gardens are] high in nitrogen, and they love it,” says Jeff Ward. “They certainly love mine.” Both humans and deer love edge habitat, the border between forested and open lands, he says. When creating more edge habitat for ourselves, by building a house surrounded with lawn in what was once a forest, we also create new habitat for deer.
For the deer, this habitat is paradise, because hunting is often not permitted there. For example, in Massachusetts you can’t discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a building. Add to that a regulation saying you can’t shoot a gun within 150 feet of a highway, and suddenly you have very few places in the eastern part of the state where it is legal to fire a gun.
In some states, such as Connecticut, this means that hunters are no longer controlling the deer population. According to Rawinski, “What is potentially controlling the deer in the suburbs is soccer moms in SUVs.”
Ward says, “Here in Connecticut, cars are the number one killer of deer.” As many as 13,000 deer a year may be killed by hunters, while cars kill up to 18,000 deer in the state each year.
Too Many Whitetails? Image
In Connecticut, with perfect deer habitat and reduced hunting, more deer are killed by cars than by hunters.Photo by Doug Stamm.
Doe, a deer
When an ecosystem becomes unbalanced, it can take decades to bring it back into alignment. In the meantime, landowners looking to mitigate deer damage on their land have limited options. For protecting small plots of land, commercial repellents can be effective under certain conditions. So can fencing, either conventional or electric. Deer become accustomed to scare tactics like motion-activated sprinklers or fireworks long before the neighbors do. Folk remedies like spreading human hair around have not passed scientific scrutiny, but tallow-based soaps have proven useful when deer populations are not already high.
When it comes to reducing the deer population, though, there seems to be no way around killing deer. This is often an unpopular solution, and much effort has been put into finding alternatives. Birth control (immunocontraception) has been highly touted by animal rights groups, but has proven ineffective in practice. The Connecticut State legislature once implemented a buck vasectomy program. “That was a failure,” Ward reports.
Some people call for relocating suburban deer to more rural areas, but that’s little more than a fantasy. There are no places looking to take in excess deer from the suburbs, and transporting deer often injures or kills them.
As deer populations grow, deer-herd managers are changing their idea of what deer management should accomplish. Instead of maintaining the deer population, today techniques are being used to reduce the herd size. Since bucks are polygamous and largely expendable from a reproduction standpoint, to reduce the overall population in an area you must kill does.
This strategy doesn’t sit well with all hunters, many of whom have grown up with the idea that a hunter’s responsibility is to protect, and even increase, deer numbers no matter what. Some hunters, and even state legislatures, shy away from the idea of killing does, even when everyone agrees that deer are harming the environment.
Perceptions are slowly changing, though. Today, every state in the Northeast has some form of doe season, and efforts are being made by both hunters and state governments to educate people about the important role hunting plays in deer population control. An alternative to traditional hunting can be seen in southern New England, where professional snipers are paid to cull deer, often at night, often over bait, in suburban developments where hunting is not allowed.
Too Many Whitetails? Image
Efforts are being made by both hunters and state governments to educate people about the important role hunting plays in deer population control. Photo courtesy Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Conditions vary from one state to another, from one county to another, even from one ridge to another. In and around Bill Schmidt’s woods in southeastern Vermont, there is some indication that the deer are currently at both the cultural carrying capacity and the biological carrying capacity. Still, a walk in his woods will show evidence of high deer populations in the recent past. The invasive plants that are a big problem in the area were probably originally helped along by deer overpopulation.
Invasives were exactly what kept Schmidt from making a timber cut at Elysian Hills for many years. Invasive buckthorn in a five-acre stand of red pine led him to believe that if he cut the stand buckthorn would take over and few valuable trees would grow. After years of work getting the buckthorn under control, he made the cut last year.
“I’m curious to see what comes in,” he says. Schmidt won’t know the results for several years yet, but maple seedlings sprouting up on his land would not only be the result of successful forest management, but also a hopeful sign that just the right number of deer are calling his farm home.
Madeline Bodin is a freelance writer from Andover, Vermont.
Too Many Whitetails? Image
Photo by Drake Fleege