STACYVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s visit was welcomed by community members on both sides of the national monument debate.
"I'm glad Mr. Trump sent his representative for us to see hopefully to see what the people's view of the national monument in this area,” Bruce Bradeen said about the secretary’s tour of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Bradeen’s home was one of dozens all along the Grindstone Road in Stacyville with an anti-monument sign out front.
The Grindstone Road has become a major route to access the monument’s south entrance where Zinke, members of the National Park Service and Lucas St. Clair traveled to enter the monument.
“I don't know if it will [make an impact],” Bradeen said. “I'd like to see maybe a change in the designation if it's possible I'd like to see it as a national forest."
Bradeen said that would make it so the land could be used more freely, as it was before the designation. He and his wife have run a cedar lumber mill for 30 years just outside the monument land.
"It's a beautiful place to live and the tourists come and we love tourists here,” he said.
Bradeen even harvests trees from the land on the outer edge of the monument. There he put up a sign on one of his skidders just ahead of the secretary’s visit reading: "Just another needless taxpayer liability."
"We put it there because we didn't actually no which way he'd be coming in and that's an access point we knew he'd probably go that way and see the message," he said.
A message echoed by many opponents who say the taxpayer dollars could go elsewhere. The two of them
“Monuments are public land. I’m not an advocate for sale of public land,” Sec. Zinke said. “I think on this issue of public land it’s not a partisan issue. We have to rise red white and blue but everyone gets a voice and a say and that’s what makes America great.”
Bradeen and his wife Rebecca said they are both hoping the secretary stays true to his word and listens to the working class.
“It's the last chance we'll have anything to say about it,” he said.
Zinke is set to attend a breakfast with area leaders tomorrow in Millinocket at 9:30am.