Federal Government Refuses to Allow Maine’s Cobscook Bay State Park to Reopen

October 15, 2013

Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531 John Bott, DACF Communications Director, 207-485-8354

AUGUSTA – The Obama administration said Thursday that states would be allowed to reopen national parks as long as states “used their own money” to pay for federal park operations. On Friday, a Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) told Maine that it cannot reopen Cobscook Bay State Park even though that park is run, maintained and staffed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands. That decision left Maine officials shaking their heads in disbelief.

“This is the type of punitive, arbitrary decision that defies logic and common sense. Maine people are pragmatic, hardworking problem solvers that expect leaders to work together to find solutions even when they disagree,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. Here we have an opportunity to reopen a State Park that never should have been closed in the first place. It is run, staffed and managed by the State of Maine with the tax dollars of Maine citizens.”

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Walt Whitcomb was equally troubled by the absence of fairness and logic behind the decision. “It is sad when we see Washington, D.C. bureaucrats decide to come in and shut it down a State Park for political reasons,” said Whitcomb. “Families are being denied access to a beautiful State-managed, State-funded resource during the peak of fall foliage season."

Cobscook Bay State Park is operated through an agreement between the DACF and the USFWS. It is located on land in the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Cobscook Bay State Park closed on Oct. 1 and is the only Maine State Park affected by the federal government shutdown. Most Maine State Parks continue operations through Columbus Day.