President Barack Obama on Wednesday designated more than 87,000 acres the Maine North Woods as a national monument that will be managed by the National Park Service.

The president signed the executive order a day after conservationist and Burt's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby transferred ownership of 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park to the federal government.

"In addition to protecting spectacular geology, significant biodiversity and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change," reads a fact sheet released by the White House.

The designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument comes on the 100th anniversary of the creation of National Park Service.

A "national monument" is similar to a national park in that it is land protected by the federal government. However, only congress can create a national park. A national monument can be created by an executive order, such was the case on Wednesday.

The subject of a national park in northern Maine has been a contentious one, with supporters saying it will bring tourist dollars to the area, which has struggled with the decline of the paper industry. Opponents -- including Gov. Paul LePage and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin -- say the designation will essentially kill the forest products industry.

Some of the opposition has been fueled by fears that the land would become off-limits to more traditional uses including snowmobiling and hunting. Although not all the details have been released, it appears that those activities will be allowed on some -- but not all -- of the land. However, the land will be open to hiking, fishing, paddling and camping.

National Park Service staff will hold a series of public listening sessions throughout the Katahdin region starting the week of September 12 to begin work on the management plan that will be developed during the first three years. Details of the listening sessions, including dates and locations, will be shared with local newspapers and posted to the monument’s website (

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