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Michaud Reintroduces Coastal Island Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Mike Michaud reintroduced the “Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act,” which designates 13 islands of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is a cosponsor of the bill, which is supported by numerous Maine conservation organizations and local businesses.
“This designation would elevate the profile of these islands and help increase tourism, which will benefit the economies of nearby communities,” said Michaud. “In addition, it will maintain the restoration and preservation of this critical wildlife habitat for future generations to enjoy.”
The Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge supports a wide array of biological communities ranging from coastal islands to salt marshes. Its 48 islands and four mainland units provide habitat for many species of migratory seabirds and waterfowl as well as host a diversity of plants and other wildlife. As a result of the refuge’s comprehensive conservation planning process, which included public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that 13 of the refuge’s islands (totaling 3,125 acres) should be designated as national wilderness due to their wild character and ecological features.
Wilderness lands are open to the public for activities such as wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, boating, photography, hunting, fishing, research and non-motorized recreation. During the refuge planning process, several issues came up about how a wilderness designation would impact public safety, private landowner access, and adjacent activities, such as aquaculture and commercial fishing. These issues were dealt with in the refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan and are specifically addressed in the wilderness designation under Michaud’s bill.
“These islands provide habitat to a wide variety of migratory seabirds and offer Mainers and tourists recreational opportunities. They are jewels of the Maine coastline,” said Michael Thompson, Board Chair of the Friends of Maine Seabird Islands. “We thank Congressman Michaud for his leadership on this effort to highlight and protect these islands.”
There are currently two wilderness designations in Maine. In 1973, two wilderness areas were designated in Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. In 1990, the Maine Wilderness Act designated Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness area in the Maine section of the White Mountain National Forest.