MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is set to wrap up his visit to Maine Thursday, meeting with local leaders in the Katahdin region before heading south to meet with other groups in the state.
He is scheduled to start his day in Millinocket over breakfast with local leaders and the Chamber of Commerce at the New England Outdoor Center at 8:30 am.
The focus of that event is expected to be on how the monument can contribute to the economy and area businesses. Millinocket has become a sort of gateway to the monument and is home to the National Park Service’s office.
NEWS CENTER followed Zinke for the highlight of his visit Wednesday—a tour through the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument for its review.
There he was optimistic about the future of the monument in the region, pledging to work with all sides of the debate to build trust in his department and the federal government.
“People don’t trust the Department of Interior,” Zinke said. “My number one priority is to restore trust, because the Interior should be the ‘yep’ team. We should work with people and not be an adversary.”
Many locals on either side of the monument debate welcomed Zinke’s visit in the hopes that it would give the federal government a better understanding of the area.
“I’m glad he’s come to check it out to see what people think,” Millinocket resident Chris Rush said. “I always felt it was going to happen anyway no matter what the people though.”
Zinke is the first federal official under the Trump administration to come to the region after many criticized other state and federal leaders for not visiting.
“I think you have to respect the local culture and make sure you collaborate and work together,” he said Wednesday. “Because this property and investment in public use is worth finding a plan that everyone gets along with.”
Zinke is also scheduled to meet with the Penobscot Nation and the Maine Woods Coalition before holding a press conference to conclude his visit in Augusta Thursday afternoon.