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James S. Finley’s “Henry David Thoreau and the Creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument” concerns itself with local specifics: how protection of land parcels in Maine has played out in recent decades. Finley begins by showing how Thoreau’s famous plea for federal land preservation in “Chesuncook” has been either deftly foregrounded or silently downplayed by political actors arguing for local and regional land protections in present-day Maine. Finley’s close reading of the August 2016 Presidential Proclamation in particular, which provided permanent protection to the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument (KWWNM), furnishes a credible framework for understanding why Thoreau is not cited among the conservationist luminaries of pertinence to the area. Cordoning the area off as a national park would not only preclude any use at all of its resources, but also bar present residents from continuing to live there. Finley points out that the eventual proclamation of the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument was welcome, precisely because it was not undertaken in the classic preservationist mode but, rather, according to a mixed-use model, which, he argues, is both more inclusive of local interests and more in line with the vision Thoreau articulates in The Maine Woods.

In: Thoreau in an Age of Crisis