The National Park Service has set a Sept. 5 deadline for people to comment on a draft “Visitor Use Management Plan” for park-owned land on Isle au Haut, a 6,500-acre island off the coast of Stonington. Comments can be made over the Internet on the site established by the park service.
In the draft, the park service proposes to keep intact a “non-promotion” policy for the roughly half of the island it owns and administers on Isle au Haut. According to the longstanding policy, which is aimed at helping protect the fragile island from heavy use, visitors to the mainland sections of Acadia National Park generally will receive no information about Isle au Haut unless they ask for it.
The draft also calls for increasing to 128 an existing daily cap on visitors to the Isle au Haut. Currently, the daily cap is 120, or 90 day visitors and 30 campers at Duck Harbor campground.
A 1982 federal law requires the park service to set a visitor capacity for Isle au Haut and review it every five years. If approved in the final management plan, the new daily cap could be exceeded for only up to six days in July and August. The existing daily limit on campers would be retained.
The draft also proposes possibly building a new hiking trail on park and private lands near the town of Isle au Haut, reviewing the layout of the five-site campground for possibly improving privacy and further protecting the environment and to maintain the existing 19 miles of hiking trails on Isle au Haut as primitive, with fewer blazes, stone steps and retaining walls than on the Mount Desert Island section of Acadia.
The park service issued the 30-page draft in early July for the estimated 3,000 acres it owns and manages on Isle au Haut, located southwest of Bar Harbor about 5 miles off the coast of Stonington. It’s a 90-minute drive from Bar Harbor to catch the Isle au Haut mail boat that leaves from Stonington.
After receiving and analyzing public comments, the park service will issue a final plan.
The park service held a public hearing on the plan on Aug. 5 at the Isle au Haut town hall.