Mining Proposal Rejected for Maine’s Katahdin Region


Decision comes after overwhelming opposition from Wabanaki Tribes, local businesses, and conservation groups


Colin Durrant, NRCM, 207-200-4412

Ambassador Maulian Bryant, Penobscot Nation, 207-881-3228

Joseph Cyr, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, 207-532-4273 ext. 238

Perry Wheeler, Earthjustice, 202-792-6211

Jake O’Neill, CLF, 617-850-1709

Nick Lund, Maine Audubon, 207-650-8739

Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission has firmly rejected a mining proposal in the state’s Katahdin region that was vehemently opposed by the Penobscot Nation, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, conservation groups, local outdoor recreation businesses, and hundreds of residents statewide.

“We are thankful that the LUPC heard and responded to the testimony of Wabanaki people, experts, and the people of Maine by rejecting Wolfden’s mining proposal. This ruling is a great victory for the precious waters and lands of the Katahdin region and the people that rely upon them for sustenance and well-being,” said Penobscot Tribal Chief Kirk Francis.

The proposal to develop a metal mine at Pickett Mountain, just miles from Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, was made by an inexperienced, underfunded company named Wolfden Resources that claimed it would meet environmental standards that even large, experienced, and well-funded mining companies have never met.

“Wolfden could not prove it would protect the clean water and extraordinary beauty of the Katahdin region,” said Nick Bennett, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “This area holds high cultural significance to the Wabanaki Tribes and contains some of the best brook trout waters in Maine. The spectacular fishing in the area helps local outdoor recreation companies and sporting camps stay in business.”

In rejecting Wolfden’s rezoning request, LUPC commissioners agreed with evidence presented by water resource specialists, mining experts, and others that showed mining pollution would endanger the region’s clean streams and lakes. The chorus of opposition also made clear the proposed mine would undermine Maine’s robust outdoor recreation economy and the jobs it supports.

“The commission correctly applied the law to the facts at hand in denying this ill-advised proposal by a company that lacks the financial resources and the experience required,” said Sean Mahoney, vice president of Conservation Law Foundation Maine. “Pickett Mountain is surrounded by lands and waters sacred to the Wabanaki Tribes and Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, which is why the overwhelming majority of Maine people opposed this project.”

The area Wolfden wanted to mine is next to three State Heritage Fish Waters and the headwaters of the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River, which is sacred to the Penobscot Nation and provides federally designated critical habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon.

“This is simply too much of a risk for Maine’s wildlife,” said Francesca Gundrum, policy advocate for Maine Audubon. “The mine would disrupt the largest undeveloped temperate forestland in the U.S., home to the last stronghold for Eastern Brook Trout and Atlantic Salmon and a globally important nursery for nearly 100 songbird species. We applaud the LUPC for their commitment to protecting human and wildlife communities in this important decision.”

Nearly 1,000 Mainers and local businesses, including Bradford Camps, Chandler Lakes Camps and Lodge, Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters, Friends of Baxter State Park, and the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization, spoke out against Wolfden’s plans. In May 2022, residents of Pembroke voted overwhelmingly to ban industrial-scale metallic mineral mining in their town in response to Wolfden’s plans to develop a mine there.

“This is a significant victory for the Wabanaki Tribes and the people of Maine who stood up to say this is no place for a mine,” said Aaron Bloom, senior attorney for Earthjustice’s Biodiversity Defense Program. “We are happy that the Land Use Planning Commission looked at the evidence and understood the significant risk that this project posed to the state’s natural areas and pristine waters. Today’s decision should send a clear signal to Wolfden that their risky project is not right for Maine’s Katahdin region.”

After withdrawing an initial request to mine at Pickett Mountain because it was riddled with errors, Wolfden submitted a second rezoning petition in January 2023 that sparked this second review by the LUPC. Comments by Wolfden’s CEO disrespecting tribes in Maine as well as mining laws have prompted outrage, and the company has lost tens of millions of dollars over the past decade.

“This is not the project that will bring economic prosperity or enhance our local communities. These are not the natural resources that should be put at risk, and this water — this precious water—should not be destroyed,” said Patten resident MaryAlice Mowry in comments submitted to the LUPC.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. (iStock)

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