Author (Your Name)

Larissa N. Lee, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Philip J. Nyhus

Second Advisor

F. Russell Cole

Third Advisor

Gail Carlson


National Parks provide federal management of valuable ecosystems for the enjoyment of future generations. The processes and requirements for establishing new National Parks are complex and multifaceted. A proposal for a Maine Woods National Park makes understanding this process in Maine timely, and this research looks to inform the Maine Woods National Park proposal. In this thesis, I examine 1 4 case studies, comparing 6 ongoing National Park proposals and the 8 most recently established National Parks across 7 variables to understand what factors are most important in National Park establishment. I compare key natural or cultural features, previous land ownership and management, size of proposed park area, political support, public opinion and community support, financial support, and perceived ecological threat. I found that designation as a unit in the National Park Service (NPS), such as a National Monument or National Recreation Area, was the best predictor of becoming a National Park. Political support and community support demonstrated to be factors present in all eight established National Parks. Established National Parks described future development threats in the bills promoting their establishment (e.g. Pinnacles National Park Act) and other advertising on behalf of the parks more frequently, and established National Parks advertised undisturbed ecosystems more frequently. Proposed park size or financial support was not associated with National Park establishment, demonstrated by the lack of variation across proposed and established parks. The proposed Maine Woods National Park lacks substantial political and community support, and the proposed land is under private ownership and therefore is not already a National Park Service unit. Conservationist Roxanne Quimby owns the land and manages it under Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., so the land currently lacks any pressing threat of development. However, Quimby' s offer to donate the land to the NPS and establish an endowment, her relentless efforts to gain community support through compromise, and the proposal's comparable history to other large public conservation lands in Maine - Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park - suggest this park proposal may have a realistic possibility for success.


state parks service, federal management, ecosystem, conservation, natural, cultural

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