Category Archives: Features

Features about Acadia National Park.

Five peregrine falcon chicks fly at Acadia, but one nest fails

Five peregrine falcon checks have fledged at nests at two sites in Acadia National Park this year, but for unknown reasons a nest failed at a third site that has yielded chicks in recent years, a biologist at the park said Friday.

peregrine falcon chick

Acadia National Park wildlife biologist Bruce Connery holds a peregrine chick that has just been lowered from its scrape, or nest, for banding. (NPS photo)

Bruce Connery, wildlife biologist at Acadia, said there was a pair of adult falcons at Jordan Cliffs and it is believed they started a nest but then one of the adults disappeared around the middle of June, and the nest failed. Connery said he does not know why the nest at the Jordan Cliffs failed but he said it was not related to the chicks or the nesting.

“My guess would be that one of the adults either left or was killed by a predator like a great horned owl,” Connery said.

On the positive side, the peregrine falcon chicks at the Precipice and Valley Cove have been flying since about July 1, and seemed alert and healthy when they were spotted by researchers, he said. At least one chick at each of the two sites was flying before the others, he said. “They are all flying now and they are doing great,” he said.

Three peregrine falcon chicks fledged at the Precipice and two at Valley Cove, he said.

The park usually waits for the peregrine falcon chicks to fly for five weeks before reopening trails, including the wildly popular Precipice Trail, that are closed in the early spring each year to protect the nesting falcons and chicks. The trails opened July 29 last year and usually open by early August each year.

Connery said the nest failure at the Jordan Cliffs was disappointing because the birds were there and everything seemed to be going along pretty well.

“It would be more understandable if we knew what caused it to fail,” he said, such as the male being attracted to another place.

peregrine falcon

One of the female peregrine falcon chicks banded in 2015 in Acadia National Park, on the Precipice of Champlain Mountain. Looks cute and fluffy now, but once mature will dive after prey at a top speed of about 200 miles per hour. (NPS Photo / Erickson Smith)

“We just know we started seeing only one adult …. There was no real rhyme or reason to why it happened.”

Male and female adult peregrines both play vital roles in nesting. Females usually lay eggs in early spring and females incubate the eggs while males hunt and bring food to their mates, according to the web site of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Researchers at Acadia don’t know if it was the male or female adult peregrine that disappeared because the feathers of both sexes are mostly similar, but Connery said he would guess that it was the male that left or was killed.

Connery said he was pretty positive it was a “natural event” that caused the nest to fail. He said there is no evidence that human interference was a factor in the nest failure.

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Physically disabled persons praise, question access to Acadia

During a recent visit to Acadia National Park, Shirley Beck, who has multiple sclerosis, said she was “very pleased” to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her light three-wheel electric scooter.

Shirley Beck, a pediatric physical therapist, on the Cadillac Mountain summit.

Shirley Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., who has multiple sclerosis, or MS, said she was very pleased to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her small electric scooter.

“It’s pretty good,” said Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., after taking in the sweeping vista of Frenchman Bay, islands and distant summits on the mainland.

Beck said she is grateful to Acadia officials for making the peak of Cadillac accessible and praised them for building the pink-granite path for physically disabled persons.  Before reaching the viewing platform, the path loops around steps and directly passes by a plaque of the first National Park Service director, Stephen Mather, who was periodically disabled by manic-depression, and was a contemporary of Acadia founder George B. Dorr, who became blind in his later years.

Beck, who visited Acadia while traveling with her husband, Roy, on a cruise ship, said she was not able to get quite as full of an experience at another key Acadia landmark, Thunder Hole. An accessible ramp leads to the upper viewing area of Thunder Hole for physically disabled persons, but not down to the lower area next to the sea cavern itself.

“The path was easy to use that got me part way down,” she wrote in a follow-up email. “I’m not sure how they could provide a way to get farther than that.”

While Beck only visited Acadia briefly, her experience was similar to that of some other physically disabled persons who travel to the Maine national park.

Acadia National Park has 45 miles of even-surface carriage roads,  trails, sites and facilities that are available to wheelchair users but others that are not wheelchair-accessible such as Sand Beach, which is below a high bluff and does not have a ramp for physically disabled persons. Citing the terrain, the park service has determined that it is not feasible to build ramps down next to Thunder Hole itself or to Sand Beach.

Stairs to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

These upgraded cement stairs provide the main access to Sand Beach, but are too difficult to navigate for many disabled people, such as Helen Franke of Wellington, Fla, who uses a cane and was stymied at the top.

But Helen Franke, a retired college administrator from Wellington, Fla., said she believed a gradual ramp at Sand Beach might be possible to accommodate physically disabled persons. “For something like this, I think they could,” she said, after stopping at the top of the stairs with a cane she needs to use.

Across the nation, access for people with disabilities is a key issue in outdoor recreation including the 59 national parks, which are required by the federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) to adopt accessibility standards for the design, construction, and alteration of facilities covered by the law.

About a month after he was confirmed this year as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke said in a release that “it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure” and that “we will remain focused on increasing access” for physically disabled persons and other people with disabilities in national parks. Continue reading

On patrol with stewards of Acadia’s stone cairns, summits

One in a series on Acadia’s Bates cairns

Within minutes of stepping onto the popular Cadillac South Ridge Trail, Tim Henderson spots a couple of Acadia stone cairns vandalized by passersby.

acadia national park hiking

Tim Henderson gets ready to dismantle a random rock stack marring a Bates cairn on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.

“These two cairns are usually broken, destroyed, knocked over or piled up with stones, because it is easy access,” said Henderson, one of an army of volunteer keepers of Acadia’s stone cairns known as Waldron’s Warriors, who patrol the park’s ridges, summmits and trails, along with Friends of Acadia-supported Summit Stewards.

“It irritates me that people are disrespectful. Obviously we have taken the time to build these to help people and they get destroyed, I assume, maliciously. Yes, it irritates me,” said Henderson, as he proceeded to fix the damaged trail markers.

Henderson is in his third season as a Waldron’s Warrior, named after Waldron Bates, the pathmaker who first came up with the distinctive trail markers known as Bates cairns in the early 1900s.

The cairns are like mini-architectural wonders, positioned just so, with 2 columns of 2 to 4 base stones, a lintel stone across the top, and a pointer stone indicating the direction of the trail.

acadia national park hiking

Bates cairns are particularly critical in pointing the way in foggy weather. (Photo by Tim Henderson)

Bates cairns fell into disuse over the years, replaced by conical rock piles. But they were revived in 2001, as a way to tie the park to a key part of its history, guide hikers and protect the fragile mountain terrain by keeping people on the trails. The Bates-style cairns give Acadia a special brand.

Even though the park posts signs and works to educate people, visitors often dismantle the cairns or pile loose rocks on them, ruining their character and violating park rules.

Henderson and other stewards of Acadia’s stone cairns and summits do their best to fight against the tide.

Wearing protective gloves and other gear for the chilly May day that he’s on patrol on the Cadillac South Ridge, Henderson takes down randomly stacked rocks, rebuilds destroyed Bates cairns, and otherwise maintains the trail markers that are critical for safe passage.

“They are for safety. They are there to help guide hikers. Unless you hike a lot and you hike in bad weather, you don’t understand how important they are,” said Henderson, who is so passionate about Acadia’s trails, he will drive more than an hour from his home in Castine to serve as a Waldron’s Warrior, even bringing his wife Jennifer along on a recent trip to celebrate their anniversary in a unique way.

“Whether it is snow, or fog, or rain, you need these cairns,” said Henderson, who owns a computer repair and service business, called PC-fitness Computer Services, and writes a blog, www.HikingMaineiacs.com, with his wife.

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Traffic triggers closures of Cadillac Mountain summit road

Acadia National Park temporarily closed the road to the Cadillac Mountain summit to incoming vehicles seven different times on Sunday and Monday, underscoring the need for a comprehensive transportation plan at the park, according to a park official.

Amanda Dilley, visitor service assistant at Acadia National Park

Amanda Dilley, one of four new visitor service assistants for Acadia National Park, monitors a long line of traffic at the summit of Cadillac Mountain on Monday. Park officials temporarily closed the popular mountain to incoming motorists on four separate occasions that day.

Because of traffic congestion during the busy July 4 weekend, even a quieter side of the park – the Schoodic section – saw a closure for about 90 minutes on Sunday on the road between the entrance to Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) and Schoodic Point, according to a table of official road closures.

Ocean Drive, which provides access to Sand Beach, was closed a little more than 15 minutes on Monday afternoon.

John T. Kelly, management assistant at Acadia National Park, said his feeling is that the closures are “making our transportation plan all that more pertinent.”

The National Park Service is developing a new transportation plan and considering several preliminary ideas to relieve Acadia traffic congestion and boost safety during peak visitation, including a reservation system for cars to drive up Cadillac or to park at Jordan Pond.

The Cadillac Mountain summit attracted many visitors on Sunday and Monday, which were both sunny days following a couple of overcast days. The road to Cadillac was closed three times on Sunday, including for about 90 minutes near the sun set, when the peak is a big draw, and four separate times on Monday, including again for about an hour because of crowds during a spectacular sun set.

There were no closures on Saturday, a cloudy day, or July 4, when many visitors apparently left.

Kelly said the Cadillac Mountain summit road is closed to further incoming cars when traffic is bumper to bumper from the parking lot at the peak to the Blue Hill Overlook. The overlook is about a quarter of a mile from the lot at the Cadillac Mountain summit.

Kelly said none of the closures lasted a very long time.

“While it is a disruption for sure for the visitor, it is not catastrophic,” he said.

acadia national park

Good weather and crowds contributed to temporary road shutdowns throughout Acadia during the July 4 weekend.

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Running pioneer has deep roots in Acadia hiking

One in a series about Acadia National Park hiking trails

Robin Emery is well known in Maine as a trailblazer and champion in women’s running, but many people may not be aware of her deep connections to Acadia National Park hiking.

acadia national park hiking

When asked to act like she owned Emery Path, Robin Emery cheerfully obliged, and kiddingly said she’s charging a small hiking fee to benefit the family.

Emery, 70, a teacher in Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School, has hiked in the park since she was a teenager, including along a namesake trail, Emery Path. Emery is so familiar with the Acadia backcountry that when asked to identify a photo of a path from virtually anywhere in the park, she can almost always correctly say where it was taken.

“I have been all over these mountains,” she said.

During a recent sunny afternoon, she paused at the sign to Emery Path, located off the Sieur de Monts Spring parking lot, before a trek from Emery to Schiff Path and to the peak of Dorr Mountain.

“If you guys want to come, it is going to be a small fee,” she joked with a couple of friends at the trailhead. “The Emery family will get the proceeds.”

She said it’s “awesome” that a trail has her name, but she did not know that it was recently returned to its historic name of Emery Path, after being known as the Dorr Mountain East Face Trail. Emery said she does not research the history of the Acadia National Park hiking trails and generally does not know their names. She just knows where they lead.

acadia national park hiking

One of Robin Emery’s favorite views, of Dorr, Cadillac and Kebo, as seen from inside her car.

The memorial path is named after John Josiah Emery, whose 1895 “cottage,” known as the Turrets, is now owned by the College of the Atlantic. But it’s unclear if there’s a long-lost family connection, according to her cousin John, the keeper of the family geneaology that dates back to 1649.

Emery moved back to Maine in 2000 to live year-round after teaching in Massachusetts for nine years and said she feels a powerful connection with the state and Mount Desert Island. On the drive to Sieur de Monts, she advises friends to “get ready” before stopping her car near the intersection of Kebo Street and the Park Loop Road and pointing to three prominent mountains framed on the horizon.

“That is my favorite view on the whole island, almost, right here. That is Dorr, Cadillac and Kebo.” Continue reading

Acadia National Park trails work takes crew with special skills

One in a series about Acadia National Park hiking trails

UPDATED 6/13/17: Description of new North Portico staircase at White House.

When the National Park Service needed people with special masonry skills to replace the steps on the acclaimed North Portico of the White House, the agency picked two top trail builders from Maine’s national park and sent them to Washington to do the work.

acadia national park hiking

Jeff Chapin, crew supervisor, shows where stone steps were taken out on the Valley Trail, to be shored up and reset in the proper order. His masonry skills also came in handy for replacing the White House North Portico steps in 2015.

After all, who better to replace the famed staircase at the White House than two people experienced at building stone steps and repairing historic masonry on the Acadia National Park trails? The park service, which maintains the grounds and exterior walls of the White House, assigned Jeffrey Chapin, crew supervisor on the Acadia National Park trails crew, and Peter Colman, another veteran trail crew leader, and they both spent about two weeks in late summer of 2015 replacing the marble steps at the White House with Vermont granite.

At the time, there was no publicity about their work at the White House because of security reasons. “I could not tell my family,” Chapin said.

The North Portico staircase faces Pennsylvania Avenue and is used to greet dignitaries.

Chapin said the staircase is three separate flights and three patio landings and includes a new ramp for disabled people. “The old ramp was metal and added on to the old stone work,” he said. “The new ramp is a permanent stone ramp to match the stairs.”

Starting another busy season in the park, Chapin, who lives in Trenton, provided a tour of an upgrade by his Acadia National Park trails crew on a nearly mile-long section of the historic Valley Trail near Beech Mountain west of Somes Sound. The section runs from the intersection of Canada Cliffs to the junction with the Beech South Ridge Trail.

acadia national park hiking

Jeff Chapin, crew supervisor, describes the cable and pulley system, strung high between trees, that is used to move huge boulders during Valley Trail reconstruction.

Part of Acadia National Park trails work includes searching the woods for boulders and then cutting them to fashion stone steps for a staircase, a wall or decorative cap to a culvert. In order to avoid dragging the rocks and damaging sensitive habitat and terrain, the huge stones are chained to a cable strung between trees, hoisted into the air, and carefully moved with ropes and pulleys, in a bit of a high-wire act.

A cable and pulley system strung high in trees might seem a risky way to move boulders, but Chapin said the key is for everyone to be positioned in the right spot to avoid injury in case a tree falls, for example. “Everybody knows where to stand,” he said. “Everybody knows what they are doing.”

Acadia National Park trails foreman Gary Stellpflug dumps gravel into the trailer manned by David Schlag, for the Valley Trail work.
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A new path is emerging for Acadia National Park hiking

One in a series about Acadia National Park hiking trails

The trails crew has launched an overhaul of an historic path that connects the Jordan Pond area with the village of Seal Harbor, providing a new way to experience Acadia National Park hiking.

Harold Read of Orono

Harold Read, trail worker at Acadia National Park, points to improvements on the Seaside Path intended to remove water from the path.

The work is being financed with donations to the nonprofit Friends of Acadia during an annual fundraising benefit last year. In a traditional “paddle raise,” sixty donors contributed a total of $318,000 to restore Seaside Path, according to Friends of Acadia.

There are no sweeping views from the path, but it is a “beautiful example” of a late 1800s to early 1900s gravel path for Acadia National Park hiking, said Gary Stellpflug, trails foreman at Acadia National Park. “It’s all woodland,” he said. “It’s nice mature forest.”

seaside path

A hand-crafted sign marks the way through the primeval woods of Seaside Path.

Stellpflug said Seaside Path is a village connector trail and will be the first newly-improved such trail for Acadia National Park hiking since Quarry and Otter Cove Trails were inaugurated on National Trails Day in 2014. The Quarry and Otter Cove Trails link the park’s Blackwoods Campground with the village of Otter Creek, Otter Cove and Gorham Mountain Trail.

A lot of Seaside Path is on private property and it is currently unclear exactly where it will terminate when the park is finished with the upgrade, he said. “We’re not sure where the south end will go,” he said.

Unlike the cliff and mountain climbs of Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Seaside Path and other Seal Harbor trails go over “a gentler terrain,” according to the National Park Service’s “Pathmakers: Cultural Landscape Report for the Historic Hiking Trail System of Mount Desert Island.” As a result, “many woodland paths were  surfaced with gravel or simply unconstructed, marked paths through the woods,” in contrast to those in the other villages, according to the report.

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Things to do in Acadia if bad knees? Ask Acadia on My Mind!

ask acadia on my mind

Ask Acadia on My Mind!

Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As

If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our page linking in one place all the Q&As.

1) My husband and I are coming to Bar Harbor on June 15th and 16th. I have some knee problems and can’t hike much or bike ride. What are some suggestions for us to do that wouldn’t be too physically demanding? Also, can you recommend some unique things to do in Bar Harbor? – Sherry Burmeister, Lansing, Mich.

Thanks for the question, Sherry! You’re making a good choice coming to Bar Harbor before the busiest months of July and August, although it will still be plenty busy. And there are lots of things to do in Acadia and Bar Harbor that aren’t too physically demanding.

The highlight of any trip to Bar Harbor has to be a tour of Acadia National Park. You’ll be arriving before the Island Explorer bus starts up in late June, so the best way to get around the park is either driving yourself, or taking one of the park-approved tour buses that leaves from Bar Harbor, either Oli’s Trolley or Acadia National Park Tours. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog)

Cadillac Mountain

Visitors take in the view and learn some facts about Acadia’s highest peak from one of several wayside exhibits on the short, paved Cadillac Summit Loop. President Barack Obama and family also walked this loop.

The 27-mile scenic Park Loop Road includes stops at the top of Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point, Jordan Pond, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and other places to take in the views. You don’t need to do much hiking to enjoy these spots, as there are short easy walkways and plenty of roadside pullouts with explanatory wayside exhibits. There are gift shops at the top of Cadillac, Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond. The park recommends taking 3 to 4 hours, including stops, to enjoy the Park Loop Road. A CD audio tour of the Park Loop Road is available for purchase at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. There is also a short film worth watching at the visitor center, as an introduction to the park.

Even though you won’t be visiting at the busiest months, you may still encounter crowds during busy times of day, such as sunrise or sunset at the top of Cadillac, or lunchtime at Jordan Pond House, with its grand view of the twin mountains known as the Bubbles. You can time your drive along the Park Loop Road off hours, or make reservations at the Jordan Pond House, to minimize waiting and traffic jams. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about TripAdvisor affiliated partner links in this blog) Continue reading

7 ways for a stress-free visit to Acadia National Park

Last year, so many people visited Acadia National Park – more than 3 million – that the road to Cadillac Mountain had to be closed 12 times, and the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach, twice.

acadia traffic

Hopefully new parking attendants on top of Cadillac in 2017 will make for a stress-free visit to Acadia. (NPS photo)

Maybe the crowds were larger than usual in 2016 because of the Acadia Centennial, and maybe park plans to have parking attendants on top of Cadillac this year will help. With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of the busy summer season, it’ll surely help to know these 7 ways for a stress-free visit to Acadia National Park.

1) Buy your Acadia National Park pass online, go early or late to the main Hulls Cove Visitor Center, or get the pass at one of the other local sites. New this peak season: Do not go to the park headquarters on ME 233 to buy your pass, since you’ll just be directed to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. The surest way to start off a stress-free visit to Acadia: Don’t get in a long line to get a park pass. Online, you can buy the usual 7-day Acadia pass or even the annual park pass. If you’re age 62 or older, you can buy the lifetime Senior Pass for $10 in advance at a participating federal recreation site near home, or via mail, before the price is slated to go up to $80 on Oct. 1. Hulls Cove is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in May and June, and after Labor Day through October, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July through Labor Day. And there are plenty of other local sites you can buy a pass at, as listed on the park’s Web site:

acadia

The online pass was developed by NIC Inc. and the National Park Service. Or you can buy a pass in the park or at area locations. (Image courtesy of NIC Inc.)

  • Bar Harbor Village Green Information Center – late May to Columbus Day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Thompson Island Information Center – early May to mid-October, hours vary
  • Sand Beach Entrance Station
  • Blackwoods Campground
  • Schoodic Woods Campground
  • Schoodic Institute, Rockefeller Hall
  • Seawall Campground
  • Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop
  • Jordan Pond Gift Shop
  • Mount Desert Town Office
  • Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce
  • Southwest Harbor / Tremont Chamber of Commerce
  • L. L. Bean in Freeport, ME

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For Mother’s Day: Gifts of Acadia and the great outdoors

If you’re a woman who loves being active in the great outdoors, you probably have your mother to thank, according to a new national study of women and the outdoors, with a timely message for Mother’s Day.

mother's day gifts of acadia

On the heels of a new national study of women and the outdoors that it commissioned, REI has launched a public initiative called “Force of Nature,” to push for gender equity in the outdoors. (Image courtesy of REI)

Women who were “highly encouraged” by their mothers to play outside as young girls are more likely to remain active today, compared with those who were less encouraged, 86% vs. 78%. And they are more likely to consider being outdoors a “very high priority,” 26% vs. 11%, according to the nationally representative study of more than 2,000 women ages 18-35, commissioned by outdoor retailer REI.

Yet at the same time, the study found 6 in 10 women say men’s interest in outdoor activities is taken more seriously than women’s, and 63% couldn’t name an outdoor female role model, even as 85% of them say the outdoors is good for overall health, happiness and well-being, and 70% find being outdoors is liberating.

In honor of mothers and other women – whether grandmothers, daughters, spouses, aunts, sisters, cousins or friends – who’ve helped inspire a love for the great outdoors, here are some Mother’s Day gifts of Acadia and the outdoors, to thank them, and invite them to play outside with you.

Mother’s Day gifts of Acadia and other park passes

Lifetime Senior Pass Acadia National Park

US citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can get a lifetime Senior Pass for $10. (NPS photo)

  • Senior Pass – If any women in your lives are 62 or older before Oct. 1, go with them to the nearest participating federal lands site that sells the lifetime Senior Pass for $10, before it’s slated to go up to $80. You can also buy the pass online for a processing fee, by uploading a copy of necessary proof of age and ID, but there’s a delay in delivery with the rush of people trying to buy before the price increase. The pass is good not only for Acadia and other National Parks, but also for all federal recreation lands, like national monuments, historic sites, wildlife refuges and national forests. The bearer of the Senior Pass can bring in a carload of passengers for free, or up to 3 other adults (children under 16 are free) at sites that charge per-person admission.
  • Online weekly and annual Acadia pass – If the women in your lives are younger than 62, you can buy an annual or weekly pass to Acadia (or other National Parks) online as a gift instead.
  • Every Kid in a Park Pass – If there’s a woman in your life who’s a mother of a fourth grader, you can help that fourth grader get a free Every Kid in a Park Pass online as a gift to Mom. Then the whole family can get in free to Acadia and all other federal recreational lands and waters this summer. Started under President Obama, this initiative aims to get kids (and their Moms) outdoors.

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If not for Earth Day, imagine a silent spring in Acadia

As millions around the world mark Earth Day, imagine what Acadia National Park would be like without the banning of DDT, the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts, or any of the other changes since that first massive showing of environmental activism in 1970:

peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon chicks, like this one being banded on the Precipice of Champlain Mountain, would not be taking flight in Acadia, if not for the banning of DDT and the passage of the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. (NPS Photo / Erickson Smith)

  • – No peregrine falcons nesting on the Precipice of Champlain
  • – Hazy views atop Cadillac
  • – Declining loon populations
  • – Acidified ponds that can’t support certain aquatic life
  • A silent spring in Acadia, with no birdsong

On this Earth Day and beyond, whether you’re marching for science in Washington on April 22 or for climate change action in Bar Harbor on April 29, or you’re volunteering for the Friends of Acadia’s annual roadside clean-up later this month, just imagine what a silent spring in Acadia would be like.

clean air act

Acadia webcam images show the impact of air pollution on the views. The Clean Air Act has helped improve visibility. (NPS Photo)

And imagine, too, what rising sea levels could mean to Acadia, as climate change worries join the ranks of environmental concerns like pesticides, mercury contamination, acid rain and acid fog, and air pollution.

As our way of marking Earth Day, of science’s contribution to protecting the environment of Acadia for people, plants and wildlife, and of the challenges like climate change still to be faced, we gather here some resources to remind us of how far we have come, and how much further we have to go.

May this listing, although not exhaustive, help spur reflection, respect, and action, in honor of Earth Day and Acadia. Continue reading

For Women’s History Month, stories of women of Acadia

UPDATED 3/31/2017: Beatrix Farrand and other notable women of Acadia, past and present, added to blog post.

If you know a little of the history of Acadia National Park, you know who the “father of Acadia” is. But less well-known are the women who were also critical in the early days, by donating land and money or otherwise helping to shape the park.

Eliza Homans

Eliza Homans gave the first large parcel of land that would become Acadia National Park, including the Beehive and the Bowl. (NPS photo)

In celebration of Women’s History Month, observed in March, here are some of the stories of the women of Acadia, who perhaps could be called the “mothers of Acadia.”

Eliza Homans – Whether you ask Catherine Schmitt, author of the 2016 book, “Historic Acadia National Park,” or Marie C. Yarborough, Acadia’s curator and cultural resources and interpretation liaison, one of the main women of Acadia to remember and appreciate: Eliza Homans.

“Previous histories of the park made only brief mention of the first land donation, the Bowl and Beehive tract, by a ‘Mrs. Charles Homans’,” said Schmitt in an e-mail. “Her story is important in part because she was the first of many, many property owners, women and men, who donated or sold land to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, the predecessor of the park. Their names are memorialized in trails and monuments, but they are often absent from the perspective of popular park histories.”

And as Acadia’s Yarborough e-mailed us last month, in describing her mission to expand the cultural stories and histories of the park beyond George B. Dorr, the “father of Acadia”; the Rockefellers; the French explorers; the Civilian Conservation Corps; and the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations:

cathere schmitt

Catherine Schmitt’s “Historic Acadia National Park” includes stories of women who helped shape the park, such as Eliza Homans. (Image courtesy of Lyons Press and Catherine Schmitt; NOTE: See sidebar about Amazon.com links)

“I push to recognize that there are OTHER stories to tell at the same time, and we need to open up our narrative to tell them. Like, women in Acadia? Eliza Homans…first large gift of land to Acadia was from a woman! We never hear about the women who were working to make this place Acadia,” e-mailed Yarborough, in response to our questions for an earlier blog post, about black history in Acadia. “Oh, there are lots of stories to tell. I just need the time and space to find them.”

In May 1908, Eliza Homans gave title to the 140 acres surrounding the Beehive and the Bowl to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, commenting that if she didn’t donate the land for preservation, “my grandchildren may find a ‘Merry-Go-Round’ established there!”, according to Schmitt’s history and Ronald H. Epp’s 2016 biography of Dorr.

Next time you scale the Beehive, or look up at it from Sand Beach, and the next time you hike up to the mountain pond known as the Bowl, give thanks to Eliza Homans. And think of her, too, when you climb Homans Path up Dorr Mountain.

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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

Message to the future in Acadia time capsule, for year 2116

Centennial logo for Acadia National Park

The official Acadia Centennial logo

If you celebrated the Acadia Centennial, you won’t be there for the opening of the Acadia Bicentennial Time Capsule in the year 2116. But you can hand down the generations the story of how you marked the 100th, and how there may be evidence of it in a special steel box in the Bar Harbor Bank & Trust lobby.

If you participated in an Acadia Centennial event, like Take Pride in Acadia Day, Park Science Day, or the Acadia Centennial Trek, your descendants may find a digital photo from the event, with you in it, in that specially manufactured Acadia time capsule.

acadia national park hiking

Digital photo of Acadia Centennial Trek participants James Linnane, Shelley Dawson, Maureen Fournier, Acadia on My Mind and Kristy Sharp on the sand bar to Bar Island, is included in the Acadia time capsule. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Sharp)

(Go to bottom of story to see a complete list of items by name in the Acadia Bicentennial Time Capsule.)

Or if you bought an official Centennial product, like the 2016 Acadia calendar by Bob Thayer, the Anatomy of a Bates Cairn T-shirt by Moira O’Neill and Judy Hazen Connery, or the Acadia Centennial Trek Medal, your descendants may find that very same item in the time capsule.

Watch the Facebook livestream of the installation of the time capsule today, Feb. 3, beginning at 1:30 p.m., featuring remarks by Bar Harbor Bankshares president and CEO Curtis C. Simard; Acadia superintendent Kevin Schneider; Friends of Acadia president David MacDonald; Acadia Bicentennial Time Capsule Working Group co-chair Charles Stanhope; and Acadia Centennial Task Force co-chair Jack Russell. The video of the half-hour event can be viewed after the fact as well at the Acadia National Park Centennial 2016 Facebook page.

While we won’t be there to bear witness at the installation of the Acadia time capsule today, or at its unsealing in 2116, we’re proud – and tickled pink – to have a digital copy of the 3rd edition of our “Hiking Acadia National Park” book, along with digital photos of the Acadia Centennial Trek, included in that stainless steel box.

acadia centennial

A digital photo of the Acadia Centennial Trek Medal, still available for sale to help raise funds for the park, is included in the Acadia time capsule.

We plan to bring family members and friends to visit the Acadia time capsule in the bank lobby, bearing a copy of our hiking book and wearing an Acadia Centennial Trek Medal, to take a photo for posterity, perhaps once a year, for as long as possible. And may that be a message to the future, about how our generation appreciated Acadia, and about how we hope the park is as loved 100 years from now.

To see whether any of the Centennial events you attended or products you purchased are included in the Acadia time capsule, check out the list of items by name, based on information provided by the Acadia Centennial Task Force: Continue reading

Trump hiring freeze hits Acadia; climate change exhibit OK – for now

UPDATE: US Office of Personnel Management provides guidance late on 1/31/2017 on hiring freeze, saying that seasonal employees, such as at Acadia, are exempt, but other positions are not.

Amid reports of the Trump administration clamping down on federal climate change efforts and the National Park Service Twitter account, Acadia National Park says its climate change exhibit and social media haven’t been affected – yet.

acadia climate change

Unveiled during Park Science Day as part of the Acadia Centennial festivities in 2016, this display is part of an exhibit at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center, showing the potential impact of climate change on the park.

“Nothing’s changed as of now,” said John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia, in an interview late last week, adding that it’s still early. “We’re under a new administration. We’re working for a new boss.” The Acadia climate change exhibit officially opened at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center as part of Centennial festivities last year, with the ribbon cutting ceremony on Park Science Day on June 25.

But the park can’t fill vacant positions, such as the environmental compliance officer and visual information specialist jobs that recently came open, and it’s unclear whether the up to 150 seasonal positions can be filled during a hiring freeze announced by President Donald J. Trump, according to Kelly.

“The word on seasonal employees has not been given yet,” said Kelly, although the park is continuing the process of identifying qualified candidates. “We’re not sure if some, all or none would be allowed.”

acadia climate change

Search “global warming” on the White House Web site under the Trump administration, and this is what you get. The phrase “climate change,” the preferred term, turns up an irrelevant post about Mamie Eisenhower. (Trump White House image)

In the first week of the new administration, NPS’s Twitter account was temporarily shut down after retweeting a couple of items viewed as unfavorable – side-by-side photos of the crowd during President Trump’s inauguration and President Obama’s, and an article about the taking down of climate change information on the White House Web site. And the Environmental Protection Agency was told not to post any social media or grant any new contracts or awards, according to reports in the Washington Post and elsewhere.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters last Tuesday that “I don’t think it’s any surprise that when there’s an administration turnover that we’re going to review the policies.”

But resistance to the Trump administration is building, with supporters of Acadia and other national parks and environmentalists setting up alternative social media sites to get out climate change facts, downloading or forwarding climate change reports, and planning a March for Science in March, and a People’s Climate March on April 29, both to be held in Washington, DC.

acadia climate change

“RESIST” carved in Sand Beach at low tide has gone viral on the Alt Acadia National Park and Alt National Park Service Facebook pages. (Photos by Gary Allen)

Perhaps the piece de resistance is by Mount Desert Island Marathon director Gary Allen, who for his 60th birthday got together with some friends and carved “RESIST” in Sand Beach at low tide. The photos have gone viral on the Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page, and stories have been written about them on the Web sites for CNN and Boston Magazine, among other places.

The Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page isn’t affiliated with the park, but with an independent sister Facebook page, Alt National Park Service, established by a growing coalition of National Park Service employees from around the country, according to info on the Facebook pages. “We are concerned citizens who were looking for a way to assist by helping to share the type of climate change and other information that the Trump administration has been trying to suppress. We are not affiliated with the park, and only affiliated with the AltNPS as an independent sister site,” the administrator for the Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page told us in a message.

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