Tag Archives: charlie-jacobi

Cadillac ecology focus of protection by alpine group, others

Cadillac is tough as granite, yet the alpine zone of Acadia National Park’s tallest mountain is fragile as eggshells.

cadillac south ridge trail

BEFORE – Erosion on a section of the Cadillac South Ridge Trail (NPS photo)

With the approximately 3 million visitors a year to the park, and Acadia’s highest peak a must-see stop, it’s a constant battle to protect the bald summit and ridge, and the special Cadillac ecology.

One recent victory in the conservation battle: Fixing a couple of sections of the popular Cadillac South Ridge Trail, which had become eroded and could turn into a muddy mess, tempting hikers to trample rare alpine plants.

cadillac south ridge trail

AFTER – Crushed rock tread helps protect fragile Cadillac ecology. (NPS photo)

“We created about 100 feet of rock-lined causeway in two distinct locations that clearly defined the trail, eliminating the standing water and mud that was there,” according to a December 2016 Acadia National Park report, by Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist; Rebecca Flesh, recreation technician; and Gary Stellpflug, trails foreman. “Deer hair sedge…and mountain sandwort…, two species of growing concern in the park, are now better protected in the vicinity of the project.”

A $3,200 grant from the Waterman Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on conserving the alpine areas of northeastern North America, helped protect the Cadillac ecology, along with matching funds from the National Park Service and Friends of Acadia.

cadillac south ridge trail

Busting rocks on Cadillac South Ridge to create new trail tread. (NPS photo)

Similar to a 2014 project on Sargent Mountain, also supported by the Waterman Fund, the July 2016 work to protect the Cadillac ecology involved park staff, and teens and young adults participating in Friends of Acadia supported programs. Some crushed rocks with sledgehammers, and others moved rocks from a big cairn at the junction with the Cadillac West Face Trail. Signs and workers would educate hikers about the project, and hiker behavior before and after the trail rehabilitation was studied. Continue reading

Waldron’s Warriors: Foot soldiers for Acadia hiking trails

On weekdays, Tim Henderson is a computer repairman. Come the weekend, he’s a Waldron’s Warrior, part of an army of volunteers battling vandalism of Acadia hiking trails, and teaching people about the park’s unique stone trail markers known as Bates cairns.

acadia national park hiking

As a Waldron’s Warrior, Tim Henderson helps to educate people about Bates cairns, and fixes damage to the stone trail markers by vandals. (Photo courtesy of Tim Henderson)

Officially, Ellen Dohmen chairs the Bar Harbor appeals board and serves on the advisory board of Healthy Acadia. Unofficially, she’s the doyenne of Waldron’s Warriors, having trained Henderson of Castine, Dave Hollenbeck of Mount Desert, and a cadre of other caretakers of cairns along Acadia hiking trails.

During peak season, James Linnane works at a Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce information booth. Off-peak, he climbs tough trails like Sargent East Cliffs, fixing cairns as he goes.

About 20 strong this year, the crew of volunteers is the brainchild of Charlie Jacobi, park natural resource specialist, who’s been working to stop the vandalism of Bates cairns, and random rock stacking that violates Leave No Trace® principles.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” said Jacobi, who first came up with the phrase Waldron’s Warriors in 2004, invoking the spirit of Waldron Bates, the Bar Harbor pathmaker who designed the cairns in the early 1900s, to recruit volunteers. “Warriors needed.”

cadillac south ridge trail

A vandal smashed and destroyed the lintel, or horizontal platform, of this Bates cairn, on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail. (Photo by Tim Henderson)

But at times it seems like a losing battle, especially with increased visitation this Centennial year. And it’s not just Acadia that’s facing vandalism of historic and natural resources. A few weeks ago, Death Valley National Park’s iconic Racetrack was defaced by a vehicle that drove across the playa, creating tire tracks that may take years to disappear.

The only thing is to soldier on, and that’s what Waldron’s Warriors do. Continue reading

Ties that bind Acadia, new Maine Woods national monument

BAR HARBOR – Pulled up to town at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, because we just had to be in Acadia on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, to celebrate the park and the new Maine Woods national monument inspired by it.

maine woods national monument

You’re more likely to see moose in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, than you are in Acadia. (Photo by Mark Picard all rights reserved)

As we hiked the trails of Acadia throughout the day, wishing strangers “Happy 100th” and joining up with friends, we not only commemorated the gift of Acadia, but also the latest addition to the National Park Service, the new Maine Woods national monument.

Since the spring, we’d suspected President Barack Obama might do what Woodrow Wilson did 100 years ago: Use the Antiquities Act to create a new Maine Woods national monument, just as Wilson had in creating the monument that became Acadia on July 8, 1916.

At an Acadia Centennial Trek meet-up we hosted in Bar Harbor in early June, a couple of well-connected locals told us that it was going to happen. One source even thought President Obama might come back to Acadia to make the announcement, since he and his family seemed to enjoy their vacation here in July 2010.

George B. Dorr is father of Acadia National Park

George B. Dorr, pictured along the shores of Jordan Pond in 1926, far right, fought to protect the lands that would become Acadia. A critical tool in that effort was the Theodore Roosevelt-signed Antiquities Act, saving it first as a national monument. (NPS photo)

Obama vacationed at national parks out west instead, but in a speech at Yosemite last month about his administration’s record of land protection, he said, “We are not done yet.”

In an article we wrote on his speech, we speculated that he might have been referring to the national monument in Maine.

Sure enough, on Aug. 24, the eve of the National Park Service’s Centennial, President Obama created the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. So far, the Obama administration has protected more than 265 million acres, more than any other president, from the North Woods of Maine to the San Gabriel Mountains in California, using the same 1906 Antiquities Act that Theodore Roosevelt wielded to protect Grand Canyon as a national monument first. Continue reading

Dogs in Acadia get national park’s conditional love

When Maria Yoder traveled to some national parks in the West last year, she said she left behind her dog, Rory, because the parks ban pets from the trails.

hiking with dogs in Acadia

Maria Yoder with her dog, Rory, along the Compass Harbor Trail at Acadia National Park

As a dog owner, Yoder, a Bar Harbor resident, said she is pleased that she lives near Acadia National Park. The park is unusual among national parks in keeping dogs and owners united on the hiking trails and offering some great hiking for dogs.

“It’s a great place for people to come with their dogs,” Yoder said recently, while walking with her Shiba Inu on the Compass Harbor Trail in Acadia. “I really like it.”

In fact, of the 59 national parks, Acadia is among only a few – Shenandoah in Virginia is another – that allow dogs and other pets on trails, as long as they are leashed, according to the National Park Service.

Yoder, manager at Bar Harbor’s Made in the USA shop, said she became aware that Acadia is pet friendly when she researched her trip to the West and discovered that pets are banned from the trails in national parks such as Joshua Tree in California and Arches in Utah. Dogs are severely restricted in others such as Zion in Utah, which allows pets on only 1.5-mile trail and Yosemite, only a 2-mile paved trail.

dogs in acadia

People love petting Rory, with good reason.

Yoder keeps Rory on a leash and hikes trails such as Ocean Path, Gorham Mountain, Champlain Mountain and Great Head Trail.

“She is very popular,” she said. “People are always petting her.”

When they plan a trip to Acadia, dog owners are generally happy to discover that they don’t need to leave their pets at home or place them in a kennel if they want to hike. Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

The cairns of Acadia: Objects of wonder, subjects of vandals

One in a series on Acadia’s Bates cairns

The iconic Bates-style cairns of Acadia National Park, Zen-like in their simplicity and historic in nature, keep hikers from getting lost on the trails. But they also attract vandals and random rock-stacking visitors, making trail maintenance a nightmare.

bates cairn

Each Bates-style cairn is unique in coloring, size and shape, such as this one along the Dorr North Ridge Trail.

A couple of years ago, vandals knocked over nearly all the cairns on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, even shattering some of the rocks. And every season, visitors pile rocks on ridgetops and cobblestone beaches, not knowing that violates park rules, or that it may offend others who come after.

Just last month, a reporter for The Spectrum & Daily News of St. George, Utah, wrote an article entitled “Stacking cairns to commune with nature,” about a family trip to Acadia, featuring pictures of his sons piling rocks on the beach along the Ship Harbor Trail. He reasoned that the next big storm would knock the rocks over, and that it’s not the same as graffiti or vandalism marring national parks.

For park resource specialist Charlie Jacobi, who’s been trying to educate the public for years about leaving Bates-style cairns and other rocks alone, it’s been so disheartening, he almost gave up last year. “I was ready to throw in the towel and say, ‘We can’t do it,’” Jacobi said in an interview. “It is a waste of our time when somebody is undoing the work that you do on a daily basis.”

cairn

Like a mini Stonehenge, this Bates-style cairn stands guard on the Pemetic South Ridge Trail.

It’s against park rules to randomly stack rocks, or to add to or dismantle Bates cairns. The issue of people messing around with cairns or building stone heaps of their own isn’t just dogging Acadia. Earlier this month, National Public Radio focused on the controversy in a piece entitled “Making Mountains Out of Trail Markers? Cairns Spark Debate in Southwest,” spurred by a column in the High Country News, “Stop the rock-stacking.”

Whether the issue is unofficial rock piles in the Southwest or in Acadia, vandalized Bates-style cairns or graffiti in national parks, said Jacobi: “There’s a larger issue here about stewardship of public lands and land trusts and places we love and go to.”

“Leave What You Find,” one of the seven principles developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, is the message people need to get, said Jacobi.

“Whether it is rocks or wildflowers or anything else, the little bit of restraint that is needed to share Acadia or any place with thousands and thousands of other people is tough to accept. But I think that is what we need to do,” said Jacobi.

Otherwise there could be rock stacks littering the landscape, or vandalized Bates-style cairns. “I’ve got photos ad nauseum. I’ve got pictures of different things that visitors have built. You could see holes in the soil where rocks have been removed,” said Jacobi. He’s also seen rock stacks piled on a boulder in the middle of Echo Lake, destruction of summit cairns and other random acts.

cairn

This photo of cairn vandalism and rock-stacking on the east face of Dorr Mountain along what is now known as Schiff Path was taken in the late 1990s. (NPS photo provided courtesy of Charlie Jacobi)

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

Q&A with Charlie Jacobi of Acadia National Park

charlie jacobi

Charlie Jacobi is resource specialist at Acadia National Park. (Photo courtesy of Charlie Jacobi)

Charlie Jacobi started as a seasonal ranger at Acadia National Park in 1984 and is currently a resource specialist. Jacobi spoke with Acadia on My Mind  about a wide range of issues, including an effort to preserve historic cairns, the possible effects of global warming, big changes over the years and the chances that President Obama will return to the park. Edited responses:

There is a major planning process in Acadia to control traffic. What is this about and how can the public contribute?

Charlie Jacobi: We do have a transportation plan. We are developing it. We are encouraging the public to participate as much as possible. We have a couple of public meetings coming up. The two meetings, each from 6:30 to 8 pm, will be held on July 29 at the Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor and on July 30 at the Peninsula School in Prospect Harbor near Schoodic Peninsula.

We certainly welcome anybody who is visiting the park to participate.

acadia national park traffic

Acadia National Park wants your input on how to reduce traffic jams, like this one on top of Cadillac Mountain. (NPS photo)

It is all an effort to deal with how we manage both the vehicular traffic and the numbers of visitors to the park. It is a big challenge. For folks who aren’t able to be here for the public meetings, there is a newsletter that is available to explain the whole process. You can find that information online on the park’s web site and also find  on the park’s web site  a way to participate. 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.

It’s clear it is becoming harder and harder to accommodate all the vehicles in the park, for sure, and perhaps in some places and times, all the people who want to enjoy the park. Continue reading

New edition of Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park

UPDATE 4/3/15: Just learned of a way you can get a copy of “Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park” for free – by joining the American Hiking Society​ at the family level. FalconGuides, publisher of the guide, is one of AHS’s partners in its Families on Foot initiative, to encourage families, particularly those with kids, to hike.

Officially published today, April 1, and Amazon.com is already selling our new third edition fast! Only 15 copies of “Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park” in stock as of this morning, and more will be on the way.

(See sidebar for note about Amazon.com links in this blog. The book is also available for purchase online at www.barnesandnoble.com and elsewhere. And it should also be available in Bar Harbor at Sherman’s Bookstore and at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center when it opens up for the season.)

Continue reading

Visitors to Acadia National Park in 2014 most in 15 years

The number of visitors at Acadia National Park in 2014 was the highest in 15 years, boosted by good weather, national media exposure and a healthy economy.

According to statistics released by the National Park Service on Wednesday, 2,559,473 people visited Acadia last year, up 13.5 percent from 2013. Acadia attracted about 305,000 more people in 2014 compared to 2013.

That’s the most since 1999 when 2.602 million visited the Maine National Park, according to statistics on the web site of the National Park Service.

The video was taken by Andy Bell using a GoPro camera and drone in May 2014, before drones were banned. The music is “Two Rivers” by Lisa Schneckenburger. YouTube video used with Andy Bell’s permission. Continue reading

Acadia National Park sets October record with 313,000 visitors

The highest number ever of October visitors to Acadia National Park may help make 2014 the busiest year in the park in more than a dozen years, despite November’s early snows, according to the latest park statistics and projections.

South Bubble Acadia National Park

Some of the visitors who contributed to a record-breaking October 2014 in Acadia National Park take in the sunshine and fall foliage from South Bubble. (Photo courtesy of Greg Saulmon)

“It does appear that this October was our highest by quite a lot,” said Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for the park, who works with visitation statistics. A total of 313,323 visitors were tallied last month, while the previous October high was just over 301,000 in 2012, as reported on the National Park Service statistics Web site. Last year’s government shutdown led to artificially low October 2013 numbers.

“It’s the weather, the cruise ships, the gas prices perhaps, and just the general increase in shoulder season traffic. And maybe a summer publicity hangover,” Jacobi said in an e-mail. Earlier this year, Acadia was named America’s favorite place by viewers of “Good Morning America” and the No. 1 National Park by readers of USA Today.

Even with the snowstorms that hit Mount Desert Island beginning Nov. 2, closing park roads for days, it appears the annual visitation is “likely to be the highest in 12-15 years,” perhaps exceeding the 2.55 million figure from 2002, according to Jacobi. Continue reading

Sargent Mountain in Acadia National Park gets new protection on peak

Sargent Mountain in Acadia National Park is benefiting from an important project aimed at protecting the fragile terrain on its peak.

Using rocks and stones mostly from a massive cairn on Sargent Mountain, workers are completing a new 50-foot causeway on the Sargent South Ridge Trail. The work is being done to encourage hikers to stay on the trail instead of venturing to the subalpine zone around the mountaintop.

Members of Youth Conservation Corps swing sledge hammers to bust rocks as part of project on Sargent Mountain

From left to right, Liam Hassett, 16, of Cleveland, Ransom Burgess, 18, of Bar Harbor and Billy Brophy, 15, of Hyattsville, Maryland swing sledgehammers to bust stones into tiny pieces for creating a new 50-foot-long causeway atop Sargent Mountain in Acadia National Park. The three are members of the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps.

The new causeway is being constructed with two layers – rocks and stones on the bottom and gravel stones on top, along with a stone border on each side. The work is shoring up a section of the trail that was deeply eroded, said Acadia Trails Foreman Gary Stellpflug on the peak on Tuesday.

“It’s really a good project,” Stellpflug said while he and other workers moved dozens of stones and rocks into the new trail section. Continue reading