Baxter Park Acquires Katahdin Lakes

Jerry and Marcy MonkmanThe Portland Press Herald reports that one of my favorite places, Baxter State Park in Maine, has just expanded its borders by acquiring a key, adjacent parcel of land. The puchase was funded by the charitable contributions of hundreds of individuals, corporations and foundations.

The 200,000 acre park is unique among state and national parks in the United States. Most other parks, including all National Parks, are managed with the express purpose of enabling human enjoyment of the land. Baxter State Park is managed under the guidelines of a trust written by the late Percival Baxter. The rules are clear: the park is for the wildlife, and human visitors are barely tolerated. The trust keeps the wilderness pristine, and the experience of visiting it difficult and humbling.

Attendance at the park has been declining steadily since 1996. Studies have shown that all wilderness recreation has been suffering, due in part to gasoline prices, but also because of—God help us—video games.

Despite the fact that making video games has been my livelihood for the past 24 years, I think it’s a shame that the appeal of video games has taken away from people’s desire to experience the wild. The human race has been around for 250,000 years—human civilization only 13,000. I enjoy Baxter State Park, because there I can be in touch with what the world was like for the first 237,000. It helps me keep things in perspective.

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