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At the tail end of 2022, my family and I spent a few nights at Baxter State Park. Though it was my first time going there in the past few years, throughout much of my life Baxter has been a staple location to visit, despite the more popular Acadia National Park being closer to where I live.

Baxter is not like the other state parks of Maine, which are all under the management of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, Baxter is managed separately by a three-person body consisting of the Maine attorney general, director of the Maine Forest Service, and the commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, called the Baxter State Park Authority.

To understand this unique arrangement, one must look to the park’s history, and the man whose name it bears. Percival Baxter enjoyed fishing and hiking in the area that is now Baxter State Park throughout his life, and after he completed his term as Maine governor, 1921-1925, he decided to protect it. In 1930 Baxter purchased a 6,000-acre parcel of land that included Mount Katahdin, and donated it to the public the following year.

Throughout the rest of his life, Baxter continued to buy land and donate it to the park, culminating with his final purchase in 1962, which brought the park’s size to an incredible 201,018 acres. Baxter died in 1969 at the age of 92, but following his death more private landowners donated land to the park, bringing its current size to 209,644 acres.

About 75% of Baxter State park is a wildlife sanctuary, though the remaining quarter is open to hunting and trapping. Per Baxter’s request, 14% of the park, located in the northwest corner, is a scientific management forest. Baxter left a trust of $7 million with which to manage the park, freeing its management from having to use tax dollars for park maintenance.

Today, the park contains over 40 mountains, 10 campgrounds (not including single backcountry sites) and over 215 miles of trails. The park now receives over 60,000 visitors per year.

In his wisdom, Percival Baxter once proclaimed, “Man is born to die, his works are short-lived. Buildings crumble, monuments decay, wealth vanishes. But Katahdin in all its glory, forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine.”

Thank you to Baxter State Park for providing the information for this column, and to Percival Baxter for his generous donations to the Maine public.

Notices

Halldale Road in Montville is closed to thru-traffic, both vehicular and foot, because the bridge near Vose Cemetery has collapsed.

The Youth Ice Fishing Derby that was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, at Lake St. George State Park has been canceled because of unsafe ice conditions, according to an announcement from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ski & Snowshoe Trailer visits scheduled for January at the park are canceled as well.

The Belfast Free Library will be hosting the first meeting of the year for the Wawenoc Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m. in the Abbott Room. As the first meeting of 2023, the group will first take care of the annual administrative business, but the main event will be a family recipe potluck. Bring a dish to share, along with the recipe and any associated family stories, photos, etc. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow genealogists and learn more about this chapter of MGS.

The group meets monthly on the third Wednesday of the month at the Belfast Free Library to discuss topics in genealogical research. Genealogists of all abilities and skill-levels are encouraged to join, from complete beginner to seasoned expert. Annual dues for members are $5 and go toward speaker fees and refreshments, but membership is not required to attend individual programs. This meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sharon Pietryka at 338-3884, ext. 25, or spietryka@belfastlibrary.org.

The Montville Select Board is looking to appoint a new school board representative. If you are interested, please contact the Select Board’s Office at 342-5543, or montville@fairpoint.net.

The Select Board is also looking for three full members and two alternate members to serve on the town Board of Appeals. If interested, please contact the Select Board’s Office at montville@fairpoint.net. For information about the position, copies of the ordinance and manual are available on the Montville town website.