MILLINOCKET – Wealthy conservationist Roxanne Quimby met privately with sportsmen and town officials last week and expressed general interest in swapping Katahdin region land she owns with other parcels, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Thursday.
The potential swap is the first significant news to emerge since Quimby first met Oct. 13 with Conlogue, Town Councilor Wallace Paul and representatives from state sportsmen and snowmobile organizations in Old Town.
That’s when Quimby agreed to allow continued public access to 23,000 acres she owns near Katahdin Lake for a year.
According to Conlogue and Paul, Quimby continued to impress at the second meeting on Oct. 18 with her forthright, businesslike nature and her seeming desire to reach an amicable solution to complaints that her land purchases are reducing traditional land access and economic potential in the Katahdin region.
Land swaps with Quimby could create greater access for hunting, ATV riding, snowmobiling, forestry and other activities, Conlogue and Paul said.
They stressed, however, that the talks, while very positive in tone, are ongoing and have not yet come close to producing anything concrete.
“There are a number of issues that we are trying to work through,” Conlogue said during a council meeting on Thursday night. “I am pleased with the discussions we have had so far.”
“These are theoretical discussions as much as anything else at this point,” Paul said.
“It appears to be her sincere interest to have some local people involved with this,” Paul added. “We are here [at the private meetings] at her request, and we continue to be here at her request.”
Quimby could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
As part of the Oct. 13 agreement, hunting, ATV riding, snowmobiling and other activities allowed on the land before Quimby’s $10 million purchase last month will continue until Sept. 1, 2007. The land is in Township 3, Range 8 and Township 2, Range 8 east of Baxter State Park.
Quimby seems to want the talks to be comprehensive. She asked for a representative of ATV riders in the region to join the discussions, and David Moore, president of the Northern Timber Cruisers Club of Millinocket, has agreed, Paul said.
Moore is representing his club in talks with Marcia McKeague, president of Katahdin Timberlands LLC, the area’s biggest landowner, to create trails through Timberlands property into East Millinocket.
The positive nature of the Oct. 18 meeting moved Paul to recommend that the council hold workshops with sportsmen, landowners, residents, the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce and officials from East Millinocket, Medway and other towns to develop a comprehensive approach to land-use issues.
The workshop could also help define what the area’s recreational uses mean to the Katahdin economy, he said.
“It’s probably past due, but I think it would be most appropriate to do this now,” Paul said.
As executive director of the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council, or MAGIC, Councilor Bruce McLean said he has been working with state officials on securing a $500,000 grant for trail maintenance.
Conlogue will set a workshop date for next month.