Tradition of Philanthropy Graces National Parks in Maine

The entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist donated the land, “and also a $40 million endowment to help improve the park and pay for the services

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Hugging the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia boasts forested mountains, wide beaches and rocky shorelines. (VOA)

October 17, 2016: There are more than 400 sites in the U.S. National Park Service, and Mikah Meyer plans to visit all of them. Most recently, he’s been in the northeastern state of Maine, where he’s noticed a recurring theme … that many of the vast and beautiful natural areas open to visitors like him would probably not have remained so had it not been for the generosity of a dedicated group of wealthy Americans.

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Patriotic philanthropy

A good example of that philanthropy was a park Meyer had recently visited: the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which President Barack Obama just designated as a national park.

The Penobscot River runs through the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.(VOA)
The Penobscot River runs through the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.(VOA)

The land, which encompasses about 35,000 hectares (87,500 acres) of spectacular woods and waterways, was purchased and donated to the National Park Service by Roxanne Quimby, a Maine resident and devoted conservationist who founded the hugely successful company Burt’s Bees. The company makes natural, Earth-friendly personal care products.

The entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist donated the land, “and also a $40 million endowment to help improve the park and pay for the services,” Meyer said.

A family affair

Quimby formed the Quimby Family Foundation in 2004 with the vision “to advance wilderness values and to increase access to the arts throughout Maine.”

Meyer had a chance to meet with Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, an avid outdoorsman and conservationist whose childhood years in Maine fostered his deep love and respect for the outdoors.

St. Clair, who is a member of the foundation’s board of directors, spoke with Meyer about the challenges of creating a national monument.

“We talked for over an hour about the almost decade-long process of getting Katahdin to become a national park site and how much work, time, energy and money has gone into doing this,” Meyer said. “It made me think about the time and effort it must have taken to create all the other 412 sites within the National Park Service. And I’m guessing that all of them probably took as much, or similar amount of work.”

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Acadia – celebrating 100 glorious years

Meyer is right.

Purchasing land and donating it to the park service has been an enduring tradition in the U.S. — particularly in this part of the country. And it takes a huge amount of work.

Acadia National Park is another example of a spectacular land and waterscape that’s been preserved and protected thanks to the generosity of dedicated, conservation-minded Americans over several generations.

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The very first national park established east of the Mississippi River, Acadia is over 20,000 hectares (50,000-acres) of lush woodland, rocky beaches, historic carriage roads and majestic granite mountains.

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