Northern Maine, defined as everything above Bangor, has a declining population and economic uncertainty, while the southern portion is derided as "Northern Massachusetts" by locals.
In comes a notorious group of Hollywood clods to the rescue.
Under the guise of economic development they want to trick the state into surrendering a huge expanse in the north for a new national park. Making grand claims of thousands of new jobs for northern residents and higher incomes as well, they somehow think locals are easily fooled.
''Every governor has made it a major program to improve the economic development of northern Maine," said Galen Rose, the acting state economist. ''I despair of ever finding anything that will bring the north economic equivalence with that of south . . . What's caused the situation are things much bigger than us. Worldwide changes, technological changes. So finding solutions is extremely difficult."
One group that says it has an answer is RESTORE: The North Woods. The conservation organization, based in Concord, Mass., has been pushing for the creation of a national park that would cover 3.2 million acres across a western swath of northern Maine, an area larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks combined.The group, whose advisory board includes Hollywood stars Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, and Robert Redford, argues that the park would bring renewed economic vitality to northern Maine. They point to a study, commissioned by RESTORE and conducted by Thomas Power, chairman of the University of Montana economics department, which found that the park would create about 6,000 new jobs. Citing the experience of communities near existing national parks, such as Maine's Acadia National Park, the study suggests that the area's average income would probably increase.