Category Archives: News

News about Acadia National Park.

President Obama “not done yet” with land conservation

In a speech at Yosemite National Park, President Barack Obama may have given some new hope to supporters of a new national monument in Northern Maine, saying he is “not done yet” in protecting public lands.

president obama

President Obama and family visit Yosemite on Father’s Day. (White House photo)

President Obama did not specifically mention the proposed 87,500-acre monument in Northern Maine in his remarks on Saturday, but he emphasized his record of creating monuments and taking other conservation actions, and suggested there’s more to come. He mentioned President Abraham Lincoln’s creation of Yosemite park and President Theodore Roosevelt’s famed visit to Yosemite with John Muir.

“Since I took office, I have been proud to build on the work of all those giants who came before me to support our national resources and to help all Americans get out in the great outdoors. We protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters – that is more than any administration in history.

“We have designed new monuments and historic sites that better reflect the story of all our people. Along with those famous sites like Gettysburg we can also see monuments to Cesar Chavez or Pullman porters in Chicago.”

“We have more work to do to to preserve our lands and our culture and our history. We are not done yet.”

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Endangered falcons take the stage at Acadia National Park

Endangered falcons gave birth to 11 chicks this year at Acadia National Park and now are putting on a show for hundreds of visitors to the park.

endangered falcons

Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang shows visitors the location of the endangered falcons and their nest during peregrine watch in Acadia National Park.

On Saturday alone, about 160 people stopped to catch the action of  the state-listed endangered falcons  at a “peregrine watch” site in the Precipice Trail parking area below a nest high on the east face of Champlain Mountain.

“We got a bird up,” said Park Ranger Andrew Wolfgang, pointing to the cliffs when one of the endangered falcons flew back to the nest after a brief absence. “It’s a really nice look at an adult in this scope right now.”

Wolfgang and Samuel Ruano, a peregrine falcon interpretive guide and raptor intern, supervised the use of two spotting scopes that allow visitors some excellent views of the peregrine falcons. Wolfgang and Ruano also spoke frequently to visitors about the history of the peregrines in the park and the need to temporarily close popular hiking trails to give the nestlings time to mature.

With the scopes, visitors could clearly see a peregrine falcon perched upright on the cliff face outside the nest or even the nestlings themselves.

“Amazing,” said Keith Spencer, a grade 7 English teacher in the public schools of Everett, MA, after he looked through the scope and saw a falcon. Continue reading

Q&A with Lucas St. Clair on Maine Woods monument

Lucas St. Clair is the president of Elliotsville Plantation, a private nonprofit organization that owns 87,500 acres in Northern Maine just east of Baxter State Park. Elliotsville is seeking to donate the land to the federal government for creation of a Maine Woods National Monument. St. Clair is the son of Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy philanthropist who purchased the land and created Elliotsville Plantation. St. Clair discussed with Acadia on My Mind the bid for a national monument, how Acadia National Park inspired the proposal, as well as the foundation’s plans to donate more than 60 acres on Mount Desert Island to Acadia this year. St. Clair is among those invited to speak during  a U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources hearing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at the East Millinocket Town Office, according to a memo by the committee. The committee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. [Livestream hearing]

What makes the land special that it qualifies for national monument status?

maine woods

Lucas St. Clair, president of Elliotsville Plantation, was born in Dover-Foxcroft and grew up in a hand-built log cabin. (Photo courtesy of Lucas St. Clair)

Lucas St. Clair: There’s many, many things. The ecosystem has lots of flora and fauna that only live in this part of Maine. It is a unique part of the national landscape. It is a Northern Hardwood Forest and is not well represented in the National Park System. This landscape influenced the birth of America’s conservation movement through Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Roosevelt. The understanding of plate tectonics from a geologic standpoint was proven on this landscape by a USGS geologist in the 1950s. It has three incredible watersheds – the east branch of the Penobscot River, Seboeis Stream and the Wassataquoik Stream. And incredible views of Mount Katahdin. It acts as a climate refuge and it is also a very important piece of landscape for the Wabanaki people.

What are the main reasons you want to create a national monument?

St. Clair: To protect a resource that offers all of the things I just described and beyond that, to bring economic benefits to the Katahdin region, a region that needs economic revitalization and a diversified economy. National parks have been proven to do that all across the country.

Are we at a crucial time in the process with President Obama leaving office at the end of the year?

St. Clair: It’s the centennial of the National Park Service and these communities are not getting any better. From an economic standpoint, we are at a very crucial time. We are at a crucial time to revitalize the economy of the Katahdin region. Continue reading

5 lessons from Acadia for Katahdin-area monument

When National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis came to Maine this month to gauge local opposition and support for a proposed Katahdin-area national monument, he got an earful.

Millinocket Marathon & Half

Gary Allen, founder of Mount Desert Island Marathon, used this photo of Katahdin, as seen from Millinocket, on Facebook, to try to help the local economy with a Millinocket Marathon & Half in December. Outdoor recreation can bring much needed jobs and dollars. (Image courtesy of Gary Allen)

He has only to look to Acadia National Park for these 5 lessons for a Maine Woods national monument, proposed by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby and family. They want to donate nearly 88,000 acres east of Baxter State Park, and contribute and raise a $40 million endowment.

Over the years, we’ve hiked and backpacked all through Maine, along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in the state, and in Baxter State Park. We’ve climbed all the mountains that are 4000 feet and higher in the state, as well as the 26 coastal peaks of Acadia on Mount Desert Island. In our travels, we’ve seen how Millinocket and other paper mill towns have struggled economically. And we’ve seen the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor and other towns that have diversified their economy to include tourism and outdoor recreation.

While the Katahdin and Acadia areas seem worlds apart, these 5 lessons apply to both. Continue reading

Acadia boosts economy with $248M in 2015 visitor spending

Bolstering the case for national parks as an economic engine, a new report shows Acadia’s 2.8 million visitors last year pumped $247.9 million into the regional economy, while across the country, a record-setting 307.2 million visitors to all national parks spent $16.9 billion.

The report is sure to be brought up by supporters of a proposed national monument in the Katahdin region, which has been hit hard by paper mill closures, even as some area residents and officials vehemently oppose the idea, with Patten the most recent to reject it, by a 121-53 vote on April 19.

acadia boosts economy

Acadia National Park’s 2.8 million visitors spent $247.9 million in 2015, according to a new National Park Service report. (NPS graphic)

The parks’ economic impact is the most measured since the National Park Service refined its visitor spending analysis model in 2012. How Acadia boosts economy and other parks around the country affect whole regions is expected to be even greater this year, with more visitors anticipated during the Centennial year for both Acadia and the National Park Service.

“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, in releasing the report late yesterday, during National Park Week. “Each tax dollar invested in the National Park Service effectively returns $10 to the US economy because of visitor spending that works through local, state and the US economy.”

While the park service hasn’t publicly taken a position on Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby’s proposal to donate what’s now known as Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area for a national monument or national park, the report will certainly add to the broiling controversy. Continue reading

Join virtual Acadia Centennial Trek to celebrate, help park

UPDATE 5/20/2016: Acadia Centennial Trek Medal now available for purchase, to help raise funds for the park

UPDATE 2/29/2016: New Acadia Centennial Trek page to serve as online guide to virtual 100-mile route, including mileage marker links to Google Maps views, other resources

Have you ever daydreamed about hiking all of Acadia’s 26 peaks, or walking the Park Loop Road or carriage roads, but you’re short on time or out of shape? Or maybe you’re in training for the Mount Desert Island Marathon or Acadia Half Marathon, and imagining the race route?

acadia centennial

Be part of history by joining the first-ever 100-mile virtual Acadia Centennial Trek, and have the option of buying a finisher’s medal to help raise funds for the park.

Well, your dreams can now become a virtual reality, during Acadia’s 100th anniversary year.

Join the inaugural 100-mile virtual Acadia Centennial Trek, which starts at the top of Cadillac; goes over the 26 peaks of Acadia on MDI, along sections of the Park Loop Road, carriage roads and MDI YMCA’s routes for the Acadia and Fall Half Marathons; and ends at the finish line of the MDI Marathon.

It’s a free race hosted by us, as part of our Acadia Centennial Partner commitment, to inspire people to think about our favorite national park throughout this 100th year, whether or not they’ve ever set foot in Acadia. It’s a chance to motivate us all to become more fit, think of the broader meaning of community, and ponder what Acadia does for us, and what we can do for Acadia.

Plus there’s the option to buy a finisher’s medal with the official Centennial logo, to help raise funds for the park. You can run for bling while running for Acadia!

Acadia Centennial

Optional finisher’s medal will feature Centennial logo

Sign-up for the race begins today, Feb. 26 (one of Acadia’s “three birthdays,” marking the date that Sieur de Monts National Monument became Lafayette National Park, 1919). And once at least 50 people have signed up, the race begins. You can run, hike, walk or step-count anywhere in the world, and you have through the end of the year to complete the route and log your miles.

If you prefer to bike, or you’re a wheelchair racer, all are welcome! Since biking 100 miles goes a lot faster than walking, hiking or running, pick your own handicap, whether 10 miles biking equates to 1 mile on the virtual route, or some other ratio you think is fair.

And if you’re already as fit as Gary Allen, the founder and director of the MDI Marathon, or an ultramarathoner in training, perhaps it should also be 10 miles to 1 – or maybe 26.2 miles to 1.

As virtual race director, we get to make the rules – but you get to bend them!

acadia centennial trek

The virtual Acadia Centennial Trek begins at the top of Cadillac, goes over sections of the Park Loop Road and carriage roads, and along parts of the routes of MDI YMCA’s Acadia and Fall Half Marathons, and ends at the finish line for the MDI Marathon, at exactly 100 miles.

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Message in the rocks: Acadia’s Bates cairns get new focus

One in a series on Acadia’s Bates cairns

Long the target of vandals and errant hikers, the historic cairns of Acadia National Park are the focus of new efforts to recognize and preserve them.

A Bates-style cairn, located off the Champlain North Ridge Trail, overlooks tiny Egg Rock and the Schoodic Peninsula.

A Bates cairn, located on the Champlain North Ridge Trail, overlooks tiny Egg Rock and the Schoodic Peninsula.

Moira O’Neill of Surry and Ranger Judy Hazen Connery have worked together to design an “Anatomy of a Bates Cairn” T-shirt. O’Neill, a registered nurse and a volunteer who helps maintain the cairns, sells the T-shirts on Etsy  to help raise money for trail maintenance.

“If we educate people about the meaning or purpose of the Bates cairn … their attitude then will be to respect them and their purpose,” O’Neill said.

bates cairn

Isaac “Breaux” Higgins, center, explains the importance of protecting the Bates cairn at a recent community dinner at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church, as part of his project to become an Eagle Scout. Accompanying him are fellow Boy Scouts Liam Higgins, his brother, and Jack Beckerley. (Photo courtesy of Bar Harbor Troop 89)

As part of his project to become an Eagle Scout, Isaac “Breaux” Higgins, a senior at Mount Desert Island High School, is raising awareness by collecting signatures on a pledge to respect the cairns.

Higgins and other scouts are also selling the T-shirts for O’Neill’s fundraising for trail work.

The Bates-style cairns are special in the National Park Service and a key part of the history of the trails on Mount Desert Island. They are named for Waldron Bates, chair of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association Path Committee from 1900-1909, who first designed them. Continue reading

Year of celebrating joyously with Acadia Centennial events

Acadia National Park’s 100th year has barely dawned, and already, more than 70 Acadia Centennial events are filling up the official calendar, featuring something for every month, and involving some of the more than 250 Centennial partners.

Centennial logo for Acadia National Park

The official Acadia Centennial logo

This week, a couple of Acadia Senior College courses begin: On Tuesday, Jan. 12, an 8-week series on the history of Acadia National Park, by Acadia Centennial Task Force co-chair Jack Russell; and on Wednesday, Jan. 13, a 6-week session on the geology of Mount Desert Island, by geologist Duane Braun.

Rounding out the Acadia Centennial events this month: A Jan. 23 Ellsworth Public Library presentation on Schoodic Point, by author Allen Workman; a Jan. 25 bean supper and Centennial kick-off event by the Mount Desert Island Historical Society; and a 1-week winter-in-Acadia photography retreat beginning Jan. 31, by photographer Colleen Miniuk-Sperry.

Among the other Acadia Centennial event highlights throughout the year, with some sure to fit into your plans and appeal to your interests:

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Year in review: Top 5 Acadia stories, top 5 blog posts in 2015

UPDATE 2/14/2016: Revised 2015 park statistics show 2.8 million visitors to Acadia, most since 1995. Change primarily a result of more accurate count of Schoodic visitors. Link to final numbers here.

UPDATED 1/6/16: December visitors to Acadia total 13,880, pushing total in 2015 to 2.756 million, up 7.5% from 2014, most since 2.760 million in 1997. See updated story and link below to NPS statistics.

Here are the top 5 Acadia news stories for 2015, in Acadia on My Mind’s opinion:

Schoodic woods

Campers, hikers and bicyclists can find out more information about Schoodic Woods at this new visitor center.

  • Schoodic Woods opens – In the biggest addition to Acadia National Park in years, Schoodic Woods opened in September, with 94 RV and tent sites in the campground, and 8.3 miles of bike paths and 4.7 miles of hiking trails across more than 1,400 acres. The land had originally been proposed for a resort with hotel, golf course, sports center and luxury villas, but a change in ownership in 2011 led to a conservation easement and the development of Schoodic Woods, next to the existing Schoodic section of Acadia. The plan is to ultimately have the park-run Schoodic Woods become park property. The campground is open seasonally, but the trails are open year-round.

    Kevin Schneider was named the new superintendent of Acadia National Park.

    Kevin Schneider, deputy superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, is scheduled to start work as the new superintendent of Acadia National Park in January. Schneider replaces Sheridan Steele who retired in late October. (NPS Photo)

  • Record-breaking October, most visitors since 1997 – Acadia had more than 2.74 million visitors through November, up 7.6% over the same time last year. It’s the first time since 1997 that visitation broke 2.7 million. October saw 335,000 visitors, up 6.7% over that same month a year ago. A combination of warmer than usual weather, increased cruise ship traffic, national publicity from 2014, and a stronger economy may have all contributed to the greater numbers, according to Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for Acadia National Park. December drew 13,880 people to the park, bringing the total for 2015 to 2.756 million, up 7.5 percent over 2014. The park’s fare-free Island Explorer bus also broke records, with more than 533,000 passengers tallied, up 6 percent from last year.
  • Changing of the guard – Sheridan Steele retires as superintendent after 12 years with Acadia. Among the accomplishments he points to: Development of the Schoodic Education and Research Center at the old Naval base on Schoodic Peninsula, and of Schoodic Woods. The new superintendent, Kevin Schneider, begins on the job in late January.
  • Long-term transportation planning begins – With crowds leading to the shutdown of the Cadillac parking lot at peak times and other traffic issues, the park launched a long-term transportation planning process. Among the ideas being explored: Occasional car-free Saturday mornings, and more frequent Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor ferry service and Island Explorer buses to attract visitors to Schoodic.
  • President Obama’s July 2010 trip to Acadia used to push climate change action – Not once, but twice, the White House included a photo of President Obama and family hiking Cadillac in 2010 as part of calls to action on climate change. This summer, the photo was included in a climate action video. And a few weeks ago, the same photo was used in social media to illustrate President Obama’s comments during the UN Climate Change conference.

    President Barack Obama hikes Acadia National Park

    This July 2010 photo of President Barack Obama and family on top of Cadillac made a couple of appearances in 2015 climate change action media put out by the White House. (White House photo)

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Acadia and Baxter ties may provide lessons for proposed park

On the surface, the story of the Acadia and Baxter regions might seem a tale of two communities.

katahdin

Katahdin’s Baxter Peak is the highest point in Maine, at 5,268 feet. George B. Dorr, the “father of Acadia,” hiked Katahdin in 1925, before Baxter State Park came into being.

Baxter, a state park, is deep in Maine’s North Woods and distinguished by nearly mile-high Katahdin. Located more than 150 miles away, Acadia, the only national park in the Northeast, boasts much smaller mountains that hug the Atlantic Ocean.

Millinocket, the gateway to Baxter, faces double-digit unemployment with the closing of paper mills. Bar Harbor and other communities surrounding Acadia attract the well-known and wealthy.

But behind these seemingly different places are some historical and social ties that go back more than 100 years, and common challenges of balancing economic development, tourism and land preservation.

President Barack Obama hikes Acadia National Park

The beauty of Acadia has drawn generations of visitors, most notably President Barack Obama and family, seen here hiking the Cadillac Summit Loop in July 2010. (White House photo)

With the debate over a proposed new national park next to Baxter heating up, there may be lessons to be learned from the ties that bind Acadia and Baxter. Last month, a petition with 13,000 signatures in support of the national park proposal was delivered to Maine’s Congressional delegation. But facing opposition, backers are now trying the easier national monument designation, needing only presidential action.

First, the people connection between Acadia and Baxter. Over the years, area residents, visitors and park employees have made the trip from Mount Desert Island to the Katahdin region, or vice versa, hiking the trails, paddling the waters, supporting the economy, or otherwise giving back:

  • In 1925, George B. Dorr, the “father of Acadia” and its first superintendent, climbed Katahdin with then-Maine Gov. Ralph Owen Brewster, whose predecessor in office, Percival Baxter, later bought and donated the land for what became Baxter State Park.
  • During the late 1800s, a young Theodore Roosevelt climbed the hills of Mount Desert Island, and also ascended the heights of Katahdin in the company of Maine guide Bill Sewall, whose home in Island Falls near Baxter is now a yoga retreat run by his great granddaughter.
  • Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist at Acadia National Park, served as president of the Friends of Baxter State Park for three years, and continues to be involved with that non-profit.

    Millinocket Marathon & Half

    Gary Allen, founder of Mount Desert Island Marathon, used this photo of Katahdin, as seen from Millinocket, on Facebook, to invite people to run the free inaugural Millinocket Marathon & Half, Dec. 12, at 10 a.m. (Image courtesy of Gary Allen)

  • This Saturday, Dec. 12, Gary Allen, founder and director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon, is hosting an impromptu free marathon and half marathon in Millinocket, requesting only that participants spend at least what they would have on race entry fees, at local businesses.

And here are some of the issues that have shaped Acadia and Baxter over the years, and that may still be relevant for today’s debate over Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby’s proposal, to donate what’s now known as Katahdin Woods & Water Recreation Area, as a new national park or national monument in Maine:  Continue reading

Acadia National Park visitors to top 2.7M, most since 1997

Acadia National Park is set to draw more than 2.7 million visitors for the first time since 1997, after attracting the most-ever number of October visitors, breaking that monthly record for the second year in a row, according to park statistics.

crowds in acadia

Acadia National Park visitors set October record in 2015. Entire year expected to draw more than 2.7 million, most since 1997, possibly making overcrowding along Ocean Path and Park Loop Road, as seen here, more common. (NPS photo)

A total of 335,002 Acadia National Park visitors were counted last month, up 6.7 percent from the record 313,323 during October of last year, said National Park Service visitor use statistics.

Through the first 10 months of this year, park visitation totaled 2,693,840, already more than the 2,563,129 for all of last year.

If the park draws the same amount of visitors it attracted last year in November and December, –  31,013 in November and 13,510 in December – it would total 2,738,363, cracking 2.7 million for the first time since 1997, when it drew 2,760,330, according to National Park statistics.

sunrise on cadillac mountain

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain attracted so many people during the summer of 2015, the summit road had to be closed twice before the crack of dawn. (NPS photo)

The summer months showed strong visitation for the park. September totaled, 462,742, up 10.7 percent from September of 2014; August, 658,253, up 3.1 percent; July, 592,137, up 5.5 percent and June, 354,035, up 4.5 percent.

In an email,  Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for the park, who works with visitation statistics, said he was  “pretty sure we will top 2.7m now,” when asked about visitor totals for this year.

“I can’t attribute this to any one thing,” he said.

He did say “it’s all you mentioned,” when asked if the strong economy, nice weather, good national publicity from 2014 and cruise ship visitors were factors.

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New Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia offers plenty

Update: See new story on Schoodic Woods Campground including shower facilities offered by local businesses and extensive photo display of sites.

Bar Harbor retiree Alice Long was so excited about the new Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia, she set up a lawn chair in front of the gate at 7 a.m. on opening day, and couldn’t wait to become the first happy camper.

Schoodic woods

Campers, hikers and bicyclists can find out more information about Schoodic Woods at this new ranger station.

“After months of waiting for the campground to open, I was thrilled to arrive there and get a tent site,” said Long in an e-mail, recalling the fun atmosphere on Sept. 1, chatting with others in line behind her, and earning a little notoriety while she was at it.

When park officials finally let her and other early-bird campers into the new Schoodic Woods Ranger Station to register, “they kept telling everyone that ‘the lady in the green chair was number one’ – from then on, that’s what everyone called me,” said Long, who is also a park volunteer.

It’s not only Long who’s excited about the opening of Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia, which will feature 94 RV and tent sites once it’s fully completed next year, and already boasts 8.3 miles of bike paths and 4.7 miles of hiking trails for campers and day trippers.

schoodic woods

Explore Schoodic Woods by bike or on foot.

Park officials had Long sign a dollar bill, to be framed and hung in the new ranger station. US Sen. Angus S. King, Jr., camped with his RV at site B12 after he helped cut the ribbon. And so many other campers have wanted to be part of the inaugural season at Schoodic Woods, the limited number of available RV and tent sites have been filled up on a first-come, first-served basis several nights this month already.

Other reasons Schoodic Woods has been long awaited: The land that the campground and hiking and biking trails are on had been threatened by a proposal to develop a resort with hotel, golf course, sports center and luxury villas, until a change of ownership in 2011 led to a change in fortunes, so that Schoodic Woods is now part of Acadia National Park. Plus area businesses have been looking forward to a much-needed boost to the Schoodic Peninsula economy.

Here are some of the highlights of Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia and the area, to help you plan a camping or day trip to Schoodic Peninsula. The campground is open on a first-come, first-served basis through Columbus Day this inaugural year. Next season, it will be open late May through Columbus Day, with reservations recommended through www.recreation.gov.

The hiking trails and bike paths are open year-round, weather and conditions permitting, according to John Kelly, park management specialist. A 100-space day-use parking lot, a seasonal Island Explorer bus stop, and two sets of restrooms, one open in season and another open year-round, help complete the picture. Continue reading

Acadia night sky makes news, draws festival, photographers

Maybe it’s the streetlights of the cities and towns they come from, or the lit-up screens of tablets and smartphones of today’s technology, but at Acadia National Park, 90 percent of visitors surveyed said the park service should help preserve the night sky, according to a new study.

acadia night sky

The official poster for the 2015 Acadia Night Sky Festival features the original painting “Starry Night Over Acadia,” by Bar Harbor artist Katherine Noble Churchill.

The report, published in the journal Park Science just days before the 7th annual Acadia Night Sky Festival begins, suggests it’s not just daytime landscapes and seascapes that attract people to Acadia and other of America’s national parks. It’s also the night views of stars, moon, Milky Way or even Northern Lights.

Calling night skies “a “new” park resource,” the report hit the national news media over the Labor Day weekend, under such headlines as “Twinkle, Twinkle: National Park Visitors Want Starry Views,” and “Sick of Light Pollution? Head to a National Park, Study Says.”

While the headlines focused on national parks being one of the last bastions of dark night sky and the need to protect it, getting scant coverage is the fact that the study is based on two surveys at Acadia National Park, of campers and visitors to 7 of the park’s major attractions.

So perhaps it should be, “Sick of Light Pollution? Head to Acadia National Park.”

No matter the headlines, “Night skies are increasingly recognized as an important resource – biologically, culturally, and experientially – in the national parks,” conclude Robert Manning, professor and director of the Park Studies Laboratory at the University of Vermont, and his co-authors. “This study documents this importance to national park visitors.”

For the stargazers, astronomy buffs and night-sky photography aficionados heading to Acadia and surrounding communities for the Sept. 10-14 night sky festival, here are highlights of festival events, and tips from professional photographers for capturing the stars for the memory book.

Stars over Jordan Pond

Stars over Jordan Pond and the Bubbles. All rights reserved, Brent L. Ander.

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New Acadia wayside exhibits mark history, seasons at park

Under sunny skies during a Labor Day weekend visit, Smriti Rao and her daughter, Nandita Karthik, 8, stopped along Acadia National Park’s Loop Road to enjoy new wayside exhibits overlooking Frenchman Bay.

Acadia wayside exhibit

Just south of Hulls Cove Visitor Center, a pullout on the Park Loop Road overlooking Frenchman Bay features this wayside exhibit, providing the history of how Mount Desert Island, Cadillac, Pemetic and Acadia got their names.

“I think they are very helpful,” Rao said on Sunday after pausing to read an exhibit titled “The French Connection,” describing the role that Samuel Champlain and others from France and elsewhere played in the history of Mount Desert Island. “It reminded me of what the French contributed.”

Her daughter, a third-grader, pointed to a section of the exhibit about the Wabanaki Indians and said it was similar to what she learned at school about Native American history.

Visitors to Acadia National Park this year, such as Smriti, Nandita and 6 others in their family up over the Labor Day weekend, may be surprised to see new roadside and other exhibits, erected in time for the park’s Centennial next year.

acadia wayside exhibit

Another wayside exhibit overlooking Frenchman Bay describes the importance of the bay throughout history and how it got its name. It identifies the Porcupine Islands, and includes photos of a birch bark canoe, a square-rigger and a cruise ship. Don’t just drive by. Stop and learn.

On Mount Desert Island, 64 new Acadia wayside exhibits were installed last fall and winter, including some that replaced exhibits dating from the 1970s and 1980s, said Lynne Dominy, chief of interpretation and education at Acadia National Park.

“Over a couple of months, suddenly everything was replaced across MDI,” she said. The exhibits can be found along the Cadillac Summit Loop and parking lot, the Jordan Pond House observation deck, the Park Loop Road and other parts of the island. Continue reading

Traffic and crowds in Acadia prompt public hearings

UPDATE 8/29/2015: Deadline for public comment now September 30. See link below to make online comment or find address to mail in comments.

UPDATE 7/31/15: Park extends public comment period to September 16. See link below to make online comment or find address to mail in comments.

If you’ve ever been stuck in a traffic jam atop Cadillac Mountain or found mobs of other hikers on the trails of Acadia National Park, the park wants to hear from you.

crowds in acadia

Crowds in Acadia can make for an unpleasant experience as seen here on the Park Loop Road and Ocean Path. (NPS photo)

In a major planning process that could help shape transportation and public access to the park for years to come, officials are holding two hearings this week to document concerns and get ideas, one at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor on July 29, and one at Peninsula School in Prospect Harbor on July 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“We are looking for public comments – both positive and negative – about how people visit the park and use the roads and trails and the carriage roads. Those are all transportation networks and they are all interlinked. We want you to tell us about your experiences, the good and the bad, and even to the point of what you think we should do about it,” said Charlie Jacobi, resource specialist for Acadia National Park, in an interview with Acadia on My Mind.

And if you can’t make either hearing, the park is taking online and written comments about transportation problems and crowds in Acadia through Sept.30.

With approximately 2.4 million visitors a year coming to a relatively small park, a 350% increase in cruise ship passenger visitation to the park since 2000, and the limits of the current parking and transportation infrastructure, the park is at a planning crossroads for dealing with crowds in Acadia. Continue reading