Vicki and Steve Richardson donated their seven-bedroom family home in the small town of Patten to help the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument get established.

Now owned by the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, an organization founded a year ago to support planning and fundraising for the new national monument, the Patten house is provided rent-free to the national monument for use as their administrative headquarters. National monument visitor centers are still located at the Lumbermen’s Museum in Patten and on Main Street in Millinocket.

Steve Richardson, 69, said the new national monument is already boosting the local economy and could lead to more opportunities for youth in the greater Katahdin area in the future. He and his wife donated the house to help that effort.

Richardson grew up in Patten, then owned and ran Richardson’s Hardware store and lumberyard, a family business that started in 1948. His son took over the business about seven years ago.

Richardson said his wife hikes and snowshoes. He doesn’t and he’s not a hunter or snowmobiler, either. His focus is on the community, where he coaches youth sports teams. Richardson also sits as the chairman of the board of Katahdin Trust Company, a bank with 16 branches from Scarborough to Fort Kent.

When Richardson was growing up in the 1960s, Patten’s economy was based on timber and agriculture and it was a thriving town of 1,300 people.

“It was the center of the area. There was a movie theater and a soda fountain,” he said. “The population in Patten is about 1,100 now. Logging is still going, but it’s weakening, and there’s not much farming left. When the national monument idea came up, I thought this could be an opportunity to stimulate the economy.”

“We did get a tax write-off that went to the hardware store,” said Richardson. “I don’t actually know how much it was. That wasn’t the motivation.”

Even as controversy swirls around the future of the National Park Service, which has a $12 billion maintenance backlog and is facing layoffs of 1,200 full-time staff under the president’s budget, the planning process continues for the new 87,000-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument located east of Baxter State Park. The national monument is still relatively undeveloped.

Unlike other federal public lands under the authority of the National Park Service that are being affected by budgetary uncertainty, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has a stable funding source that will keep the process moving: a $40 million endowment fund from Burt’s Bees founder and philanthropist Roxanne Quimby.