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Roxanne Quimby | Controversy in Maine’s North Woods

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Roxanne Quimby’s goal is to preserve the landscape of Maine’s North Woods forever, but controversy has been sparked by those who want to retain use of that land.

Roxanne Quimby & Maine's North Woods

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In the early summer of 1975, 24-year-old Roxanne Quimby arrived in northern Maine, having driven across the country with her boyfriend, looking for a place to homestead. Between them, they had $3,000. In Guilford, a mill town 50 miles northwest of Bangor, they found 30 acres of woods on a back road for that sum. They planned to build a cabin and live off the land, there at the edge of the fabled North Woods.

On the day of their arrival, as Roxanne stepped out of that road-weary Volkswagen bus onto the carpet of pine needles that was to be her home for the next 20 years, you might, if you were paying keen attention, have felt the earth tremble slightly beneath her feet, for the state of Maine would never be quite the same again.

Soon after, in 1976, the last logs tumbled down the Kennebec and brought to an end the legendary world of the river drives, which for generations had been alive with teams of oxen, timber cruisers, camp bosses, and loggers, a place that resounded with the ring of the axe and the smell of fresh sap. When those last logs drifted into the boom, it is possible that no one quite knew the changes that lay ahead for the 10-million-acre kingdom called the North Woods.

Rather than seeming like an end, this may have seemed like progress. Logs would move on railcars and trucks, as they had been increasingly for many years. It seemed as if nothing much else would change. That chapter of the Maine woods might have been over, but the framework that had supported it all those years — the paper companies that owned that land — would remain. The woods, everyone assumed, would continue to regenerate, and the need for wood and paper would never end.

The purpose of owning this vast timberland was to harvest the trees. Whatever else went on on that land didn’t much matter to the paper companies. Thousands of hunting camps rest among the pine and spruce and at the edges of those ponds, there by virtue of a hundred-year lease, given by the paper companies to whoever staked a claim. Hunters and their families built camps, often of logs cut from the property, and knowingly at risk of someday losing the land beneath their efforts.

But nothing ever happened. Hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails were cut through the forest. Recreation became the North Woods’ secondary use. For generations, the paper companies allowed a special kind of privilege: public use of private land.

Roxanne knew little about any of this when she arrived. She was not a woodswoman but an aspiring artist. Having just graduated from art school in San Francisco, she envisioned a life where costs would be low so that she could paint and sell her work. She and her soon-to-be husband, George St. Clair, cleared enough trees to build a 20×30-foot cabin. No running water, no electricity, no phone — not a hardship but a challenge. They cleared space for a garden. “We were very idealistic. We did a lot of wood-splitting, bow-saw work, hauling. It was very different from the way I’d been raised,” Roxanne says now. “It was important to prove to myself that I didn’t have to live the way my parents lived.”

Roxanne, who had grown up in Lexington, Massachusetts, and then moved to San Francisco, had much to learn about life in northern Maine. She worked as a waitress, and George worked occasionally at a local radio station. The old VW bus died, and so they walked where they needed to go. At the end of each year, they had money to pay their taxes and buy the small things they needed. Four years later, Roxanne gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. After a few years, George found a life elsewhere.

So it was Roxanne and the twins, in the cabin. Roxanne needed more money than what she was making. One day, she stopped to buy honey from a pickup truck parked by the side of the road. She became friendly with the man selling the honey, a gruff, bearded beekeeper named Burt Shavitz. He was older than she by 15 years and was having back trouble. She offered to help him, and he gladly accepted, as he could use a woman with a good strong back. That summer, she learned how to keep bees and how to render honey. “I was inspired by the bees, the way they all worked together,” she says. “I thought, ‘Oh, what good little communists they are. Well, except for that queen in there.'”

She and Burt became partners in life and partners in business. She put the honey into prettier jars, pouring the golden sweetness into little bears and hive-shaped containers. Packaged this way, business picked up. In his barn, Burt had a lot of wax stockpiled. Roxanne saw it as an opportunity. She started making candles and took the honey and candles to craft fairs.

The honey sold steadily. The candles sold well in the fall and through the Christmas season, but people didn’t seem to want them in the summer. They melt; they have no allure. So Roxanne looked around for something else to do with the wax and found an old book with some recipes that called for beeswax. On her woodstove, she made up cauldrons of boot polish and furniture polish and poured the substances into little tins. She liked the tins. They looked old-fashioned and homey. And then she discovered a recipe for lip balm.

She labeled the products “Burt’s Bees.” Burt had all his hives stenciled “Burt’s Bees,” and when Roxanne was working the hives, she says, “I used to think that was so funny, as if anyone could actually own a bee!” So she put it on the tins. She found that when people came by her table, even if they didn’t buy anything, they liked the name. “People would go, ‘Look, honey, Burt’s Bees!’ and they’d laugh and keep walking, saying things like, ‘Burt’s Bees, Burt’s Bees! Mind your own beeswax!’ They seemed to love to say it,” she recalls. “It was so simple, down-to-earth, two syllables, nothing fancy, sort of like Burt, sort of like the product, sort of like the lifestyle I was trying to paint. So I thought, ‘Okay, yeah, that’s a good name.'”

Some may have chuckled over the name, but most of them bought it. She couldn’t make enough lip balm. She moved her wax and the cauldrons to the abandoned schoolhouse in Guilford. No running water or electricity, either, but she barely noticed, setting the cauldron on the gas range and sometimes working until midnight by the light of kerosene lamps. She added a drawing of Burt to the label, his bearded face representing anything but beauty. Buyers embraced the product even more.

That was the beginning of Burt’s Bees, which today is the best-selling natural personal-care brand of cosmetics in the country, a brand market researchers call “lightning in a bottle.”

But this little handcrafted product was hardly so back then. Roxanne followed the destiny of her creation one step at a time, a road without a map that led her, after 20 years of living and doing business from a remote Maine town, to North Carolina, where she felt the business climate was more favorable. Maine was high on taxes and low on accessibility. It was 1994. Her twins were in boarding school. As much as she hated to leave, Roxanne left for the South, not with a backpack but with a $3 million business of her own creation in tow.

The same year Roxanne left Maine, the Warren division of Scott Paper, one of the two largest landholders in Maine, sold everything it owned to Sappi — South African Pulp and Paper Industries Ltd. It represented a shift in the global market and a shift in the life of the Maine woods at least as significant as the end of the river drives. Apparently no one foresaw that opening the world to free trade would one day steal away the North Woods. China and South America became easier and cheaper places to find wood and paper. Seemingly overnight, the North Woods went up on the block. Tracts of thousands of acres of land came up for sale. A Seattle-based firm called Plum Creek — which turned out to be as much a real-estate developer as a timber company — was buying.

In 1998, Sappi sold its land to Plum Creek: in all, nearly a million acres. If the arrival of Roxanne Quimby caused a tremor, Plum Creek’s emergence caused an earthquake throughout this, the largest expanse of wilderness east of the Mississippi.

“Plum Creek is now the largest landowner in the United States,” Jym St. Pierre says. He is the Maine director of a group called RESTORE: The North Woods. In 1994, RESTORE put forward the idea of creating a 3.2-million-acre park: Maine Woods National Park (MWNP). “I saw the signs on the horizon, even back in the 1980s, that things were going to change,” St. Pierre says. “What I didn’t predict was the speed of it. I didn’t think it was going to happen this fast. This is not evolution. This is a revolution.”

By 2005, Plum Creek had proposed a plan to rezone and subdivide 400,000 acres surrounding Moosehead Lake. The plan included development of two large resorts and nearly a thousand residential lots on a portion of the land. “This is the largest, most controversial project ever proposed in the history of Maine,” St. Pierre notes.

Unable to gain approval from LURC (the Land Use Regulation Commission, which acts as a zoning board for Maine’s unorganized townships), Plum Creek has revised the plan three times. Its current proposal is under review. Plum Creek has emphasized that most of the land will be placed under “working forest” and conservation easements, a move to calm the fears of environmentalists.

St. Pierre explains that some of the easements will continue to allow timbering, road construction, sawmills, cell towers, herbicide spraying, mining, even subdivision, and are not for conservation but for continuous forestry. “You can shape these easements any way you want,” he says. “Some of them are very good. These Plum Creek easements have no value.”

Plum Creek, however, has forced the hand of many in a state where employment is way down. St. Pierre quotes statistics: 5,000 people once worked in the mills of Millinocket and East Millinocket. Today, only 500 are employed there. That cabbage smell of the paper mills, once known as the smell of money, has been replaced by the faint odor of despair.

“I don’t blame people for clinging to the hope that some of those days will come back,” St. Pierre says. “The forestry industry will survive, but it won’t be the driver anymore. The biggest industry in Maine is tourism, and Plum Creek is trying to tap into that in a way that will give them maximum profit. They buy land cheap and sell it high. They still make money by cutting trees, but they make most of their money cutting up land.”

The debate in Maine over what should happen to this abandoned kingdom gets louder with each passing year. RESTORE has been vocal in its efforts to create the Maine Woods National Park, but its proposal has been rebuffed by many a Mainer. One bumper sticker reads: “RESTORE BOSTON: Leave the Maine Woods Alone.”

“For a long time, we had this big place, over 10 million acres, as big as the whole rest of New England, that people just forgot about,” St. Pierre explains. “It was a big blank spot on the map, and now everybody’s scrapping for it. Everything about this is big. It’s the last big place. Look around the country. I don’t know of any other place that’s in play like this. Even Alaska. We’re all trying to figure out what the brave new world will be up there.”

St. Pierre cites the paper companies’ indulgence in letting the public use their private lands: “The biggest reason we don’t have a national park in Maine today is because we’ve had a de facto park for generations. People feel entitled to that land, just because it’s always been there.”

St. Pierre’s father and grandfather worked in the mills and in the woods. “People thought this land was like a permanent institution, like the U.S. government,” he says. “They thought it was going to be there forever and always be the same. Well, no matter what happens, that is not the case.”

Roxanne was by then surely the most unorthodox CEO in America. In her corporate headquarters in North Carolina, she conducted herself in the spirit of who she had been in her hippie days. Dogs and children were welcome in the workplace. She kept her desk in the art department, making herself available to any of her 300 employees. She never advertised Burt’s Bees.

“I always felt it was much more important what people said about us than what we said about ourselves,” she says of the product that sold mostly by word of mouth. Roxanne found that one key to the success of her products was the process of discovery: “Once [the consumer] found Burt’s Bees, they felt like it was theirs, it became personal. They put their flag in, as if to say, This is mine, I discovered it! And they became really loyal.”

Burt accompanied Roxanne to North Carolina but lasted only two months. And so Roxanne bought out his share of the business, and he returned to his converted turkey coop in Maine, where he still lives, with an abandoned beehive in the front yard, goldenrod growing high around it.

In 2003, having grown the business to a phenomenal $60 million a year, Roxanne Quimby sold Burt’s Bees to AEA, a New York investment company, for $141 million, but retained 20 percent ownership. Not exactly overnight but in the comfort of time, Roxanne Quimby, she of the long skirts and wood-heated spaces, had become a vastly wealthy woman: “At that point, I said to myself, ‘Now what, Roxanne? You’re only in your fifties and you’ve got another 20 years of life on this earth. What do you want to do?'”

She went to Hawaii and to Antarctica and all the places she had always wanted to go. She shopped for a home in Palm Beach. She bought six. “I was questing,” she says now.

And then she returned to Maine, where the fight for the North Woods was on. She came to realize that “money itself is totally worthless. You can’t eat it. You can’t cover yourself up with it at night and stay warm. Money is only what it does, and so I was trying to find the most meaningful thing to do with it that I can.”

And so, establishing a nonprofit foundation called Elliotsville Plantation, she began to buy up the North Woods.

Maps spread before her on the long table, Roxanne Quimby draws red outlines onto a map of northern Maine. She is formidable, tall and imposing, dressed in black, her long dark hair hanging loose. “Everything in red is mine,” she says.

On the map, Baxter State Park cuts a clean, elongated block right in the center of the big, ragged, cranial head of the state of Maine. Baxter State Park is the creation of Percival P. Baxter, who served as Maine’s governor for only four years (1921-1925), during which time he tried and failed to make Mount Katahdin, which he regarded as the state’s crowning glory, a state park. Despite that failure, “Mr. Maine,” as he was sometimes known, never lost sight of that goal.

Not a particularly vigorous outdoorsman, Baxter became ill after one of his climbs up Katahdin. Through his fever that day, he vowed to himself that if he lived, he would ensure that one day, the mountain, which then belonged to the Great Northern Paper Company and to one other private owner, would forever belong to Maine.

Starting in 1930 and ending in 1962, Baxter quietly purchased 28 separate pieces of land, a crazy quilt of mountains and streams, ponds, and waterfalls that he put together to form what is now known as Baxter State Park: 202,064 acres, more than 315 square miles of stark wilderness, a place Baxter willed to be “forever wild,” and which will remain so through the deeds of his trust. (Through additional purchases after Baxter’s death in 1969, the park now encompasses 204,733 square miles.)

These were not simple purchases, given over for the asking price. As he bought more and more parcels and closed most of them to hunting, angry citizens raised their voices. A park, Baxter discovered, was not something everyone embraced.

Most of Roxanne’s red rectangles are east of the park. She is stitching her own crazy quilt. These are plots of land she has bought. There are others she hopes to buy. Some are scattered and separate. By bargaining and swapping, she is trying to put together a whole. In concert with RESTORE, what she has in mind is a national park. “I feel like my reason for being put on this earth will have been fulfilled because this will live on after me. A park is a demonstration that there is something in America that I can love,” she says, her counterculture philosophy re-emerging. “It’s very democratic: A Mexican immigrant or a millionaire, for 10 bucks, they both get the same experience.”

She is sitting in the front room of one of her many homes, far from the cabin in Guilford. This particular house is in Portland, and it so happens that it once belonged to Governor Percival P. Baxter, whom she admires a great deal. “He is very inspiring to me,” she adds, “but there’s a difference between us. Governor Baxter inherited his money. He didn’t earn it. That makes for a whole different outlook. The way Percival Baxter went about acquiring his land must have been different, spending someone else’s money. I fight tooth and nail for every dollar. I’m a businessperson. I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”

That Roxanne Quimby and Percival Baxter live and lived at opposite ends of the American spectrum is true. The North Woods are Roxanne’s passion now, as the bees once were. “It was part of the culture of our family, to be out in the woods,” she recalls. “Both my kids hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. The fact that the paper companies were downsizing came at the right time for me. There were all these opportunities. They used the woods and owned the mills, and that did, in some ways, preserve the wilderness because they never cut it up into pieces, so it’s still fairly intact. Chesuncook, Northeast Carry, Kokadjo — people carry those places in their minds, and even if they don’t get there, it’s important that it’s there, that they could be there if they wanted to.”

By the summer of 2007, Roxanne Quimby had spent $39 million to purchase 80,000 acres of wilderness. Nearly 65,000 acres of it lies between Baxter State Park and the East Branch of the Penobscot River. To her mind, a park is the only reasonable destiny for this land: “If we leave this to chance, we will not have the opportunity to make decisions about what happens next.”

In the process of making these purchases, Roxanne gobbled up hunting grounds, snowmobile trails, and some beloved primitive camps that families and hunters had passed down through generations. “I own it now,” she proclaimed. “Buying the land also means I am buying the right to call the shots.”

Roxanne, now the undisputed queen bee of the North Woods, returns to the map: “These two pieces of land here effectively stop all east–west traffic. This bridge, the Whetstone Bridge, here — it’s one of the very significant nails in the coffin because it’s the only way to get across the river for something like 30 miles. Okay, you can go over the bridge, but you can’t go across my land with a car. So you can have your bridge, but it ain’t doin’ you any good. I’m closing in, and I’m doing this to demonstrate that you cannot leave this to chance.”

She is speaking broadly to those who oppose a park, those who ironically also claim they believe in property rights: “Yes, it’s a private road, but it’s been in such permissive use for so many years, people forget that the state doesn’t own that road.”

Up there, where she is pointing, people slapped bumper stickers onto their cars and wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Ban Roxanne.” Letters to the editor condemned her.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I was really blown away. I could not believe people would come after me like that, so personally and with such venom. I thought I would be appreciated. I mean, doesn’t everybody love a park?”

At the time, Roxanne was on the board of RESTORE: “People up there hate RESTORE, so I put some distance between us at that point. I didn’t need that.”

But Roxanne and RESTORE work in supportive ways. “We are not a land trust,” Jym St. Pierre clarifies. “RESTORE does not buy land. Rather, we’re an advocacy group. We promote ideas. The idea of this park is still being hotly debated more than 13 years after it was first proposed. MWNP remains robust, in part, because Roxanne Quimby has made it tangible. There is nothing more real than real estate, and Roxanne has repeatedly said she would like to see the lands she has acquired become the seeds of a new national park. What she owns now would be a very credible beginning.”

When Roxanne was growing up, she often played Monopoly. “I loved that game,” she says. “I had two sisters and a brother, all younger, and they were always available to play. I hated to lose, so I always made sure, one way or the other, that I won.”

This is how Governor Baxter got his park — one piece at a time, with many setbacks and disappointments. But in the end, he won.

Roxanne’s plan is somewhat counterintuitive. She returns to the bees of her past: “To me, ownership and private property were the beginning of the end in this country. Once the Europeans came in, drawing lines and dividing things up, things started getting exploited and overconsumed. But a park takes away the whole issue of ownership. It’s off the table; we all own it and we all share it. It’s so democratic.”

But before she can pass it on to the public, she has to own it.

The Piscataquis river runs through Guilford, a town of rugged people, about 1,500 of them, most of them working at the local mills that have for years made wood products such as golf tees, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, and wooden nickels. Guilford’s town manager, Tom Goulette, leans on the counter and talks about the time when townspeople watched the long-haired Roxanne and her company outgrow his town.

Everyone has a story about her: how Burt used to borrow the town shovel and take it over to Burt’s Bees to clear their walks, as if they couldn’t afford to buy a $10 shovel for themselves. Same with the town broom. Even the town flyswatter was borrowed. Burt’s Bees stood out for its long-haired ways and its unorthodox style. “For all the makeup she made, I don’t think she’s ever worn any,” Goulette notes dryly.

“She made so much money in Maine, she had to leave the state to make more money,” he adds, somewhat sour that she took her business south. But he corrects himself: “She was different. Hard-nosed, successful. She’s made it and she deserves it, just like Bill Gates. I don’t agree with her, but I do respect her.”

He stops. He’s a tall man, bearded and probably the same age as Roxanne. For some years, they shared this town. “Now she’s one of those kingdom holders,” he says. “She’s kicked out all the leaseholders. That doesn’t go over very well.”

Roxanne closed her properties to snowmobiles and hunting and gave notice to the camp owners. The land was hers now. She made statements in the press that fueled the fire, but then she realized that was not the right path: “I needed to meet with them and hear what their needs were. I feel like we’re both at the table as equals. I’ve never felt any sense of entitlement, and I still don’t feel that way, that I’m entitled to anything more or less than anyone else, so I think that puts me in a unique position to work with these folks. And they really like me; I don’t feel any antagonism from them. They keep shaking their heads and thinking, ‘You’re just like a regular person, aren’t you?’ ”

Terry Hill and her husband, Craig, have run the wilderness resort known as Shin Pond Village Campground in Patten for some 30 years now, and they were among those who felt steaming outrage — not only at the fact of Roxanne’s acquisitions but also at her, this woman who came into the woods like a strike force, money on her belt like repeating ammunition.

“When this started, we were ready to fight,” says Terry. Their resort includes campgrounds, cottages, and miles of snowmobiling trails that cut right through Roxanne’s land. Meetings were called; Roxanne came to listen. A year of meetings has made a huge difference. “In the past year, I’ve done a 180-degree turn in this process,” Terry says. “She’s listening. She’s extended our rights for the snowmobile trails for another year. She’s working hard to be a better neighbor. We don’t know what the future of the Maine Woods will be — none of us do. But we do know that we all love the woods, we love our land, and maybe, in the long run, we all want the same thing.”

The old North Woods open up like a trunk full of memories, smelling of camphor and pine needles, woodsmoke and melting snow. When a river driver died, riding a log or busting up a jam, people would find his spiked boots downstream and hang them on a tree near the water. They would hang there for years as a memorial until they disintegrated. We have nothing to hang on the tree now, no vestige of that life gone by.

The Lumbermen’s Museum in Patten is as close as we will likely get. Bud Blumenstock has been a docent there for several years, having retired from managing woodlots from Fort Kent to Kittery. He sees these changes in the woods more optimistically than most, retaining the hope of a forest that will always support the people of that area. “Logging and lumbering have always been a big part of our economy,” he explains. “It’s changed in that Maine is now a village woodlot in the global economy. We’re up against Brazil and China. To be competitive, we have to be efficient. It’s a very complex situation.”

And the players have to bring themselves into that competitive mix. “A logger is no longer a man with an axe on his shoulder,” says Blumenstock. “It’s not unusual for a logger to have a million dollars invested in his work. When people like Roxanne Quimby come along, they have a lot of money and they want to buy land. I once told Roxanne that I’m a tree hugger and a logger, and she said, ‘How do you do that?’ ‘Well,’ I told her, ‘I hug the tree and then I cut it down.’ Parks are nice, but they don’t produce any lumber.”

The great trees of these woods are long gone, and much of the new growth, thinner and less substantial, is not good enough for lumber. These trees are chewed up for wood chips or used in pulp mills to make paper. Much of the land Roxanne and Plum Creek have bought has been damaged by extensive logging. Plum Creek is proposing trophy homes and resorts. Roxanne wants her land to return to wilderness.

Like many people around here, Blumenstock keeps his opinion of Roxanne to himself: “I don’t want to say anything negative about Roxanne Quimby. She has her plan. It’s her choice and her prerogative, but logging is an important industry to the state of Maine. Trees grow. That’s my one-liner. As long as we harvest them wisely, we’ll always have a strong working forest in the state of Maine.”

“Oh, Roxanne Quimby? she’s my hero!” Wallace Drew is the ranger on duty at the check-in station at Baxter State Park’s Matagamon gate. “We compare her to Governor Baxter. When Baxter was buying up the land for this park, people were mad about that, too. He has it in the deeds: Forever wild. That means no paved roads, primitive campsites. Most of us understand that these lands need to be preserved.”

From the station, you return to your car and leave this earthly world. It is almost impossible to describe the feeling. The park road — narrow, with grass growing between the dirt tracks — wanders, twists, and turns, mile after mile, edged tightly by trees and canopied with their branches. At openings, there are waterfalls, marshes, or streams, and eventually, majestic Katahdin.

Baxter’s struggle to climb to the Katahdin summit remained one of his few actual experiences on the big mountain, which rises a mile high. When he visited his park later, he came in his chauffeur-driven Cadillac — a strange sight, the old man viewing his most important legacy from the backseat of a black limousine. He thought about that park every day, his chauffeur reported.

That is true for Roxanne as well. But her struggle is in sharp contrast.

Once, years ago, she came home from selling candles and lip balm at a craft show. It was 3 in the morning and 20 below zero. She was tired and discouraged. She had not sold enough to even pay for her gas home. When she got home, the wind had blown the window of her cabin open, and there was snow all over. “Sometimes you feel like giving up. I did that night,” she recalls. “But then you pick yourself up again. I believe that success is getting up one more time than you fall. It’s not one brilliant idea, but a bunch of small decisions that accumulate. Never underestimate the amount of work involved, the amount of fear involved.”

In November of last year, Burt’s Bees was sold for nearly a billion dollars to Clorox, which stated that it was eager to “grab market share in so-called green products.”

“It feels like closure,” Roxanne said shortly after the sale. The little company that grew is now completely out of her hands. But 20 percent of the sale price went to Roxanne. “That has put a lot more green energy into what I’m planning to do,” she added.

In December, after a year of closed-door negotiations, Roxanne struck a new kind of deal with state officials and local civic leaders. From the Gardner timber company, she purchased 8,900 acres east of Baxter State Park, which she will return to wilderness, and in turn granted the state a two-year option to buy 5,000 acres of her Millinocket-area property plus a working forest easement on another 6,600 acres, guaranteed to be open to motorized recreation and logging. She also agreed to keep open two important snowmobile trails that cross portions of her land, perhaps heralding a thaw in her relations with area sportsmen and residents.

Today, she is working on acquiring still more contiguous parcels on the east side of Baxter State Park. “This feels good,” she says. “Yes it does.”

Click here for more information about Roxanne Quimby’s foundation to improve the quality of the north woods in Maine, keepmebeautiful.org.

Comments
  • How the could this woman who stole Burt’s business be considered anything but, unethical?

    Reply
  • I live not too far from Quimby’s land off of route 11 and 212. I am astounded by the amount of logging that is done in this area. Most parcels have only a cosmetic strip of trees in the front of the gutted lands. What is considered conservation and selective foresting leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen where loggers take their skip loaders and just bulldoze over the trees to get to their prize. I know where my property is located most adjacent properties have been logged out less than every 15 years The prizes, the harvested trees are getting smaller and smaller and the competition to log out areas more intense.

    We had a logger come up to our door asking if we wanted to sell off our timber when we said no we are not into that, he actually was visibly mad. It is starting to look like a bad poodle cut up here on Dudley Ridge all the surrounding properties are being cut! I know this has been Northern Mainers way of life but when it gets to the point you have connecting swaths of land over logged and re logged every 15 years, with slash left behind and little to no old forest growth and the new growth is sucker growth from the hard woods, that is poor conservation!

    The way I see it with lots being logged out more frequently with less and less time for regrowth with little to no old growth trees left, the loggers will kill the goose that laid the golden egg ! I can see why Quimby wants to put her property into conservation by turning it into a National Park. I have seen both sides and truly understand, anyway it is her land if they the loggers & Northern Mainer natives wanted it so bad then they should have bought it or the loggers should have formed a corporation to have bought it.

    Reply
  • I live not too far from Quimby’s land off of route 11 and 212. I am astounded by the amount of logging that is done in this area. Most parcels have only a cosmetic strip of trees in the front of the gutted lands. What is considered conservation and selective foresting leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen where loggers take their skip loaders and just bulldoze over the trees to get to their prize. I know were my property is located most adjacent properties have been logged out less than every 15 years The prizes, the harvested trees are getting smaller and smaller and the competition to log out areas more intense.

    We had a logger come up to our door asking if we wanted to sell off our timber when we said no we are not into that, he actually was visibly mad. It is starting to look like a bad poodle cut up here on Dudley Ridge all the surrounding properties are being cut! I know this has been Northern Mainers way of life but when it gets to the point you have connecting swaths of land over logged and re logged every 15 years, with slash left behind and little to no old forest growth and the new growth is sucker growth from the hard woods, that is poor conservation!

    The way I see it with lots being logged out more frequently with less and less time for regrowth with little to no old growth trees left, the loggers will kill the goose that laid the golden egg ! I can see why Quimby wants to put her property into conservation by turning it into a National Park. I have seen both sides and truly understand, anyway it is her land if they the loggers & Northern Mainer natives wanted it so bad then they should have bought it or the loggers should have formed a corporation to have bought it.

    Reply
  • Harold

    So is she buying the land to build her own mansions and stuff and basically monetize it herself or is she buying the land to prevent it from ever being developed into resorts and stuff?

    There are many celebrities buying thousands of acres of land, building ski resorts and hotels etc. If she’s building a park, what’s the problem? Who cares if you can’t log there anymore? It’s not your land anymore. I disagree with closing trails though. I mean if I was riding my bike through a trail for years and someone bought the land and closed it, I’d be mad too. Leave the area open to hike, ride bikes, enjoy the scenery, take photos, go camping etc.

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  • The families who have been living in Northern Maine for hundreds of years are now feeling some of the pain that their ancestors inflicted on the Native Americans who lived there for thousands of years.

    Of course, the great-great-etc-grandfathers of today’s white Northern Mainers killed most of the natives, and penned the survivors up on Indian Island, or other outposts with marginal resources.

    Funny to hear them complaining about losing their snowmobile trails now that karma is coming back around.

    Also funny that the New World Order isn’t really much better than the old one, the poor white Mainers are going to have to move someplace else too, or die the new version of death, the economic one.

    In the eyes of the New World Order you could say they and their grandparents were lucky to live the “good life” in Northern Maine as long as they did. Thanks to the corporations who sold out as soon as profits dwindled.

    Things aren’t going in a good direction. Then again, they really never did since industrialization began. Something needs to change.

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  • roxanne,Why would you put a gate on your roads after telling the people you wouldn’t? Now I can’t go in and get fiddleheads in my favorite spot and most people love picking them and the old folks really look forward to an free meal when it comes to the Lords plants. please remove them for the harvest atlease please

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  • Having grown up in Maine and knowing of Burt’s backlandish ways from back in his days in Dexter before his move to Parkman, I can’t help but respect the foresight that Roxanne had in growing his Burt’s Bee Business (now hers) to where it is today. I also believe that wild places are needed such as Baxter Park. That said I find it is very hard to put a positive spin on what Roxanne Quimby has accomplished and is now doing for/to the average Mainer today. She took a Maine business that employed Mainers in a part of Maine where jobs are few, that also produced revenue and taxes to help the local economy (property taxes) and state economy (state corporate and individual income taxes) and had many positive spinoff affects with other local businesses and moved it out of State for personal gain (which I still respect) as the owner of my own business. That said, she now is back in Maine purchasing land at top dollar but benefitting from reduced taxes because this land is in the Current Use Program of Tree Growth or she is placing it in Open Space and is being run as a non-profit corporation. Either way she is paying pennies on the dollar for property taxes and avoiding other taxes (not contributing her fair share) and now changing the land uses which have beneffitted many Mainers for generations in a part of the State where other jobs are scarce. Local loggers, truckdrivers, foresters, hunting/fishing guides and the myriad of spinoff businesses (Truck and Equipment dealers, etc.) are finding themselves being displaced and possibly unemployed by her tremendous wealth. She may be a hero to many from Away who have visions of Northern Maine becoming a Park where the wealthy from other States and Southern Maine can recreate but she is anything but a hero to the average Mainer living in these areas (many for generations) who are being displaced so that she can feed her ego instead of finding a way to help poor Mainer’s feed their families.

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  • Having grown up in Maine and knowing of Burt’s backlandish ways from back in his days in Dexter before his move to Parkman, I can’t help but respect the foresight that Roxanne had in growing his Burt’s Bee Business (now hers) to where it is today. I also believe that wild places are needed such as Baxter Park. That said I find it is very hard to put a positive spin on what Roxanne Quimby has accomplished and is now doing for/to the average Mainer today. She took a Maine business that employed Mainers in a part of Maine where jobs are few, that also produced revenue and taxes to help the local economy (property taxes) and state economy (state corporate and individual income taxes) and had many positive spinoff affects with other local businesses and moved it out of State for personal gain (which I still respect) as the owner of my own business. That said, she now is back in Maine purchasing land at top dollar but benefitting from reduced taxes because this land is in the Current Use Program of Tree Growth or she is placing it in Open Space and is being run as a non-profit corporation. Either way she is paying pennies on the dollar for property taxes and avoiding other taxes (not contributing her fair share) and now changing the land uses which have beneffitted many Mainers for generations in a part of the State where other jobs are scarce. Local loggers, truckdrivers, foresters, hunting/fishing guides and the myriad of spinoff businesses (Truck and Equipment dealers, etc.) are finding themselves being displaced and possibly unemployed by her tremendous wealth. She may be a hero to many from Away who have visions of Northern Maine becoming a Park where the wealthy from other States and Southern Maine can recreate but she is anything but a hero to the average Mainer living in these areas (many for generations) who are being displaced so that she can feed her ego instead of finding a way to help poor Mainer’s feed their families.

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  • Roxanne, you have really lost sight of Millinocket and let down those that stuck up for you,,,, and no, I?m not one of those fools that thought you?d change.

    .

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  • Wouldn’t it be ironic if Roxanne Quimby’s ancestors were from Central Maine, where the lumber business thrived a generation ago?! I would love to know if the Quimby Veneer Mill in Bingham was owned and operated by her ancestors! She is not My hero! She takes pride in her “poor” beginnings (like most wealthy folks do). Her early hardships in Central Maine were much like the hardships of all Central Mainers, Downeasters and Northern Mainers. I would love to hear the REAL stories of Ms. Quimby during her early endeavors in the woods of Maine. These stories would need to come from neighbors and townspeople who observed her and had daily interactions with her. Her “uniqueness” comes from her wealth and riches, not from the fact that she lived in a way that hundreds of other Maine people have lived for generations. Any “uniqueness” in that area, would only be because she was not accustomed to the lifestyle of living in the Maine woods. Did she get town assistance? Did she get financial help from her Daddy? Did she get a welfare check from the State of Maine? Was she considerate of her neighbors and the community? Did she always have “complaints” about how the towns and State were run? Did she grow “pot”? Did she sell it? (Most hippies did) Did she pay taxes? Did she show respect for the generations of Mainers who were hardworking, mostly unskilled —- just doing what they had to do to make a living? Or was she, even then, looking down upon us all, from her “priviliged upbringing”, so engrossed in her own interests, that she was “blind” to the realities of the real Maine and it’s people?

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  • I’ll be happy to pay ten bucks for some clean air and water.

    Just donated to RESTORE and I wish success to Roxanne and her project.

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  • I think when God created Maine he surely wanted people to be able to enjoy all parts Downeast the North Woods, Deer Isle and MDI. But I am sure he wasnt planning on some greedy or self aggrandising CEO to charge the average joe 10 bucks to see it, swim in it or breathe it’s air. A WISE man once told me:

    IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO PASS THRU THE EYE OF A NEEDLE….
    THAN FOR A RICH MAN TO GET INTO HEAVEN!!

    TRYING TO BUY REMEMBERANCE IS SHAMEFULL
    ONE SHOULD BE THOUGHT OF ON THEIR MERIT(S), ALONE.

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  • I have been a logger in Northern Maine for over 30 yrs. That said, I have little faith in industrial forestry’s ability to sustain, let alone improve, the economies of the local communities. There is also little evidence that the overall health and welfare of the forest is of any real concern.
    I do, however, believe that there is something inherently beautiful about a local culture built around the natural resources that surround it. This way of life is severely threatened. It is threatened by the Roxanne Quimbys, the Plum Creeks, the fact that land values are determined by out of state markets, the forest industry’s focus on consuming the trees rather than managing the forests,ect. ect.. Outside this complex web of control and consumption there are thousands of individuals whose connection to the land has been at best marginalized, at worst ignored. We (with permission and/or legal right) hunt, fish, trap, canoe, hike, camp, x-country ski, snowshoe, snowsled, ride 4-wheelers, pick fiddleheads, cut firewood, leaf peep, and in general sit around with our chin in our hands thanking God for the opportunity to just be here.
    There was a time when I thought that my passion, my love, my profound appreciation for what surrounded me (ie. what I had the right to reach out and touch on any given day) was payment enough to insure that I would not be excluded. I no longer believe this to be true and it saddens me beyond words. More for my children than for me.
    Yet there is hope. If my children can become obscenely rich, buy 10’s of thousands of acres in the North Woods, and invoke in perpetuity my personal agenda on all who would wander there then I guess that’s OK.

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  • For many years I worked as a canoe guide on the West Branch of the Penobscot with the Boy Scouts. This experience led me to a career with the US Forest Service and National Park Service. I believe the North Woods would be a perfect addition to the NP system. The rivers and mountains offer a wilderness experience within easy reach of millions of Americans. There are so few place left in the east that offer the serenity and unspoiled beauty of the North Woods. I still belong to the scouts. We take these young men (and women) to some wonderful places. We visit the Smokies and the Rockies. We canoe the entire Connecticut River. But it is in Maine, along the Penobscot, that we get our truest sense of wilderness. National Park status would raise the awareness of the American public to this vast resource. I hope that the people of Maine will see beyond the quick bucks of vacation home development and preserve this land for future generations.

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  • I guess I’m not as enthusiastic as others posting here. I respect Ms. Quimby for what she has accomplished, but I’m not convinced that a national park is in Maine’s best interest. I’m also impressed by the amount of land that will be permanently conserved under Plum Creek;s plan, roughly 400,000 acres, 95% of the plan area. What should we say to the people who live and work here? What happens to the forestry supply. Forestry jobs pay well and make up a huge portion of our state’s GDP, with all the federal cuts for social programs, a weakening dollar, the need for renewable energy, one more national park seems like a luxury we simply can’t afford…what if the government wanted your back yard?

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  • Why would I want to pay for areas in maine that I can not visit to hunt or fish? Now we can tax the owners and regulate there use of the land. How can people who have second homes around moosehead tell others they can’t build there. Makes no sense, good enough for them to develop the land for themselfs, but not for people now. The Maine North Woods is not park worthy. It is not anywhere near a yellowstone, or grand caynon. It is working forest. The State can regulate development in curtain areas forever. I just don’t see the spectacular volcanic areas or amazing caynons. It has nice lakes and small mountains. The Federal government will never want to spend the money for a park like that. You need amazing vistas and views. Katadin has some, but other areas around the north woods just aren’t spectacular to see. It is fun to camp and fish and hunt but agian it is no Denali. I love the area but I would hate to see it not get developed around moosehead and see the town of greenville disapear. I like to see resorts and industry come back and see more people spend time in the area and money.

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  • This is an interesting debate and both sides have merit. But one thing I think is being overlooked that would help BOTH sides come to agreement much quicker. That is to designate the land a National Forest instead of Park. The White Mountains are a supreme example of a National Forest at work. Sustainable, selective logging helps support the local workbase. Snowmobiling, hunting, fishing and hiking are also a big part of the National Forests motto of “Land of many uses”. There is a balance between nature (in the White Mountains there are Federally designated Wildernesses which protect the forest from human development of any kind) and Current-Use that can be reached if both sides are willing to give and take to come to an agreement.

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  • Contention over how to assure the ongoing existence of wild places should not prevent people with vision and foresight from taking necessary steps to protect what’s left of our few remaining living forests. Maine is unique in the contiguous states in having that much relatively unscathed land left to argue over. When our family sets out to go hiking, we want wilderness, we don’t want to hear motors, we don’t want to smell exhaust. We want to see vibrant, complete ecosystems and the living things that can only exist there. Thanks to Roxanne Quimby and RESTORE, very possibly our descendants will still know what that’s like.

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