Rumors that Roxanne Quimby planned to purchase a township on the boundary of Baxter State Park for a future North Woods National Park were proven true Monday with the closure of a deal to purchase 24,083 acres from Irving.
Maine Environmental News verified the sale on its Web site Monday evening, but local residents had long believed that Quimby, who already owned nearly 20,000 acres, mostly in Piscataquis County, was eyeing the Irving land in northern Penobscot County.
Attempts to reach Quimby on Monday night were unsuccessful.
Quimby made her fortune selling the Burt’s Bees line of natural cosmetics, and has been using the proceeds to buy land for a future park for several years. Monday’s purchase of T5 R8 was her largest to date. The price – more than $12 million according to Maine Environmental News – was by far the steepest she has ever paid.
Quimby is a member of the board of directors at RESTORE: The North Woods, the group that supports creation of a national park in northern Maine.
RESTORE has long viewed T5 R8 as a prize. It is within the proposed park boundary, and its proximity to Baxter makes it very valuable to preservationists.
In August, residents of northern Penobscot County gathered at Shin Pond to discuss their response should the rumors of Quimby’s interest in their region be realized.
Many feared that snowmobile trails and hunting grounds in the township would be closed. Camp owners worried about losing their leases. Others feared that access to timber would be eliminated if Quimby stopped harvesting and closed logging roads.
Besides the land sold to Quimby, Irving recently sold another 47,000 acres in T2 R8, T3 R8 and T4 R8 in separate deals with logging contractors Herb Haynes of Winn and William Gardner of Millinocket.
The state had made a bid for all of the more than 70,000 acres of Irving land, which the company rejected.
Baxter State Park officials have often discussed whether “buffers” to the park might be necessary in the future to prevent development on the park boundaries. Whether Quimby’s land serves such a purpose remains to be seen.
“She certainly has done a lot on the area of environmental interests. I’m sure she’ll be a good neighbor,” said Baxter State Park Director Irvin “Buzz” Caverly upon learning of the sale Monday night.