Making the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument more easily accessible to the public while accentuating the Wabanaki heritage of the land are the focuses of a $35 million capital campaign announced Tuesday by the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.
The effort, combining the efforts and resources of the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, the Elliotsville Foundation Inc., the National Park Service and a Wabanaki Advisory Board, will fund a visitor contact station, priority park projects and Wabanaki initiatives.
The Friends campaign, called “A Monumental Welcome,” has already raised $22.8 million. The Quimby Family Philanthropies, Roxanne Quimby Foundation and Elliotsville Foundation Inc. have committed to donating $10 million of that.
Once completed, the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station will greet visitors to the national monument. Also planned are a 3.6-mile access road to the site, an eastern lookout and accessible paths and access routes.
Tekαkαpimək translates from the Penobscot language to “as far as one can see” and is pronounced de gah-gah bee mook. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is located within the Penobscot Nation’s homeland, which is linked with traditional Penobscot culture, language, history and stewardship.
Katahdin is a culturally significant place to Wabanaki tribes including the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot nations.
“Our family is honored to support the next step for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, constructing the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station as a gift to the National Park Service and visitors for generations to come,” said Lucas St. Clair, President of Elliotsville Foundation Inc.
The Elliotsville Foundation and the Wabanaki Advisory Board will work with the National Park Service to build a visitor contact station that accentuates the peoples, natural resources and future of the Katahdin region.
“Through artistry and exhibits created by Wabanaki artists and knowledge keepers, visitors to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will receive a profound welcome,” St. Clair said.
The campaign is expected to provide $2.7 million to support improvements identified as priorities by the National Park Service. Those include the renovation of the Loop Road Overlook at Mile 6.4, signage, road maintenance and initiatives that will promote the importance of recognizing a dark sky as part of the ecosystem.
The campaign also establishes a $1 million fund for projects selected by the Wabanaki Advisory Board, which hopes to facilitate ways for Wabanaki youth to pursue careers.
“We as a Wabanaki Advisory Board have been mutually committed to fostering a collaborative partnership with [Elliotsville Foundation] that is needed to create the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station while developing a long-term relationship that will carry into the future,” the board said.
The Tekαkαpimək Contact Station site is an active construction zone and is closed to visitors at this time. It is expected to open during summer 2024.
More than 200 donors have already contributed to the capital campaign, including the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, Elliotsville Foundation Inc., Burt’s Bees, L.L. Bean, the National Park Foundation and NorthLight Foundation.
“Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters is proud to play our part in this campaign in partnership with the National Park Service, Wabanaki Advisory Board and Elliotsville Foundation, with the support of our growing philanthropic community,” said Brian Hinrichs, Executive Director of Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters. “This campaign provides immediate economic impact, with over 90 percent of construction expenditures here in Maine, and we look forward to welcoming new visitors who will support the ongoing revitalization of local communities.”
Interested donors can visit the campaign webpage or contact Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters staff for more information.
“We look forward to working together to implement these projects to support the development of the monument,” said Mark Wimmer, Superintendent of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was created by Presidential Proclamation on Aug. 24, 2016. The 87,500 acres of land were donated to the United States by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, through Elliotsville Foundation Inc., to celebrate the 100th year of the National Park Service.