Category Archives: Plants

Flowers and other flora in Acadia National Park, whether on the trail or at Wild Gardens of Acadia.

Climate change consequences hot topic in Acadia, US news

With the United States planning to pull out of the Paris climate accord and Al Gore’s new movie, climate change is a hot issue this summer.

climate change research

Topography map of Acadia and Mount Desert Island at the Nature Center shows the potential impact of climate change on shorefront, roads, plants and wildlife.

The topic is also sharply in focus at Acadia National Park, where an exhibit at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center explores current and future climate change consequences at the park including the flooding of salt marshes, the survival of a parasite that is killing hemlock forests and the threats of rising temperatures on summit plants, trees like red spruce and balsam fir, and nesting sites of Puffins, Arctic Terns and Loons.

Lynne Dominy, chief of interpretation and education at Acadia, said it is important that the exhibit helps people understand the environmental changes that may occur over the next several decades in the park.

Dominy said the displays are based on science, but they allow people to make their own decisions about climate change.

“The main message is to be educated and to make responsible choices,” she said. “You have to understand we live on a complex planet and that things change. It is important to be a part of that and to understand where we are going and make responsible choices.”

Scenes of climate change consequences are also on the big screen in Maine and elsewhere in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the new movie by the former vice president that’s being released 10 years after the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The movie trailer includes President Donald Trump pledging during the campaign to end the federal EPA and cut billions in climate change spending. In a speech on June 1, Trump said he was ceasing all implementation of the Paris accord – a global agreement aimed at reducing global warming and pollution – because he said it imposes too many draconian financial and economic burdens on the United States.

The Trump administration has also opted to dissolve the 15-member Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, after its charter expired, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The panel is intended to advise policymakers on how to incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning, the Post reported.

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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

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

Spring blossoms, rhodora inspires, in Acadia National Park

For Jill Weber, consulting botanist for Acadia National Park, the flowers of spring bring a feast for the senses, and a desire to share the experience.

“One of the first plants that say spring is beaked hazelnut,” said Weber, with flowers that are “exquisite, magenta, threadlike structures that must be seen to be believed. Soon after we get mayflowers.”

rhodora in Acadia National Park

Rhodora along the Dorr North Ridge Trail.

Then there’s the rhodora, the occasional mountain sandwort, carpets of bluets, violets both white and blue, starflowers and pink Lady’s-slipper, to name just some. It’s late May, early June and the mountaintops and lowlands of Acadia National Park are brimming with spring flowers.

Of all the spring blossoms of Acadia, perhaps none are as adored as the rhodora.

“Its bloom time demands a hike up Dorr Mountain for a view of Great Meadow,” said Weber by e-mail, when asked by Acadia on My Mind to name the flowers that most mean spring for her. “The rhodora in the middle of the peatland forms a mosaic of colors with the unfurling leaves of each tree species providing a unique signature. It is a Monet painting come to life!”

Not only have scientists like Weber been inspired by the purple and pink rhodora, so have writers, photographers, Rusticators of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and even the first park superintendent, George B. Dorr, and his staff.

rhodora

Local photographer Vincent Lawrence captures the mass of rhodora pink along Great Meadow, with the spring green of Huguenot Head and Champlain as backdrop. He even has a blog post all about rhodora on his photography workshop Web site, entitled “Meet Rhodora”. (Photo courtesy of Acadia Images)

Perhaps it’s the profusion of color, the delicate flowers that last only a week or two, or that they grow in such different habitats as the peatland of Great Meadow and the seemingly barren summits of Dorr, Cadillac and Sargent Mountains, that make rhodora such a standout.

The flower can be found in bloom in the Wild Gardens of Acadia at the Sieur de Monts Spring area of the park, as well as along the Cadillac Summit Loop, Dorr North Ridge Trail and elsewhere, as we found this past week during hikes throughout the park. Continue reading

Hope springs eternal for springtime in Acadia National Park

UPDATED 5/3/15: Added two new pages, for year-round dining and other services in the 6 villages of the Town of Mount Desert, including Northeast Harbor and Somesville, and for year-round services on Isle au Haut and nearby Stonington.

UPDATED 3/16/15: Acadia National Park today announced some delays to usual springtime schedule because of this winter’s record snow, see below section on Park Loop Road, carriage roads and camping. Here’s the official news release.

Deep snow may still cover parts of Acadia National Park as the first day of spring approaches, but surely it can’t be long before birdsong fills the air, flowers and trees bud and the park rouses from its wintry slumber.

Jesup Path in acadia national park

Apple blossoms frame a view of Champlain Mountain along Jesup Path in springtime.

Acadia in springtime is an uncrowded paradise, perfect for hikers, birders, plant aficionados, bicyclists, runners, photographers, or anyone who enjoys the outdoors and magnificent scenery without the summer and fall foliage season throngs.

Maybe you can’t get into the water at Sand Beach – but who can even in summer? – or dine alfresco in Bar Harbor or at the Jordan Pond House. Maybe you can’t hop on the Island Explorer bus shuttle over to Northeast Harbor and anywhere else on Mount Desert Island, or around Schoodic Peninsula. And maybe you can’t take the Isle au Haut mail boat directly to Duck Harbor.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park in spring

Sand Beach in spring shows the effects of winter storms, with the rocks to eventually be covered by sand again. (NPS photo)

But what you get instead during this season of rebirth: Roads less traveled, so you can more safely run and bike around the Park Loop Road – and maybe even up the 3.5-mile Cadillac Summit Road if you’re in great shape; plenty of parking at trailheads or carriage road parking lots; and as much solitude and communing with nature as you would like, whether you hike, bike or run, or watch for flora and fauna.

Here’s a guide to springtime in Acadia, including basics about visiting the park and activities to explore, to help you plan your trip. Continue reading

Fall foliage in Acadia National Park a leaf peeper’s delight

SEE 2015 FALL FOLIAGE POST HERE

UPDATE 10/8/14: It’s official, peak foliage is arriving in the Acadia region, according to the latest weekly report on the state’s foliage Web site. See the link to the report, below, as well as links to some new live Web cams with views toward foliage on the Bubbles and elsewhere.

The brilliant fall foliage of Acadia National Park puts it at the top of many a list, for everyone from renowned national parks photographer QT Luong to domestic diva Martha Stewart, from Backpacker Magazine to National Parks Traveler to the Wilderness Society.

Otter Cove in Acadia National Park

The fall colors of Acadia National Park contrast with the dark tidal flats exposed at Otter Cove. Cadillac and Dorr are in the background. (All photos by QT Luong/terragalleria.com all rights reserved)

Luong called Acadia’s autumn colors “some of the most beautiful fall foliage on the East Coast,” in an online magazine, The Active Times. Stewart featured an October hike up Parkman Mountain on her Martha blog a few years ago and described the views as “amazingly beautiful!”

Backpacker Magazine last month listed Acadia as No. 1 out of “12 amazing fall foliage destinations,” while National Parks Traveler has included Acadia in a list of top 10 contenders for best foliage in all of the national parks and featured the park in this fall’s “Essential Park Guide.”

And just a couple of weeks ago, the Wilderness Society included Acadia in its “15 national parks for fall color.”

QT Luong and Acadia National Park fall foliage

Fall colors shine through even on a rainy day in autumn in Acadia National Park.

If you feast your eyes on some of the Acadia fall foliage photos taken over the years by Luong and republished in this blog post, you’ll see why this national park is on everyone’s favorites list.

Luong, who was featured in Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” as the first photographer to capture all the parks in large format, includes 46 photos of Acadia fall colors on his Web site, www.terragalleria.com. And he recently updated his blog post, “Guide to Fall Foliage Color in the National Parks,” which includes a section on Acadia.

Is it peak yet?

When’s the best time to get peak fall foliage in Acadia National Park? Usually mid-October, although it can range from the first to the third week of October, according to the park’s answers to frequently asked questions. The official Maine foliage Web site shows a 5-year history of when the peak occurred in various parts of the state, and features weekly foliage updates this time of year. This week, according to the Maine foliage site, Acadia is close to peak.

You can check an official Acadia Web cam on McFarland Hill for how far along the foliage is. While the cam is to help monitor air quality, it does include the top of some trees in its view. There are also links to live Web cams at the Web site of local radio station 93.7 FM, “The Wave,” for a peek at foliage toward the Bubbles, around Bar Harbor and other locales.

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Labor Day, nature signal end of summer in Acadia National Park

The cricket’s chirp, the shorter days, the bloom of goldenrod and cotton-grass – all are bittersweet signs of the passing of the seasons at Acadia National Park.

The white tufts of cotton-grass particularly sadden Jill E. Weber, co-author of the field guide, “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” because “it means summer’s almost over.”

Though you may never have seen cotton-grass, you will know it when you see it.

Cotton-grass in Acadia National Park

A hiker points out a field of cotton-grass in the distance in Acadia National Park.

Four varieties of cotton-grass are listed in “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” a project of the Garden Club of Mount Desert, Friends of Acadia and the Maine Natural History Observatory, and they all have a distinctive cottony bloom and grow in wetlands.

Despite its name and appearance, cotton-grass is not a grass, but a sedge. In fact, about a quarter of the plants in Acadia are grass-like, some of which are sedges, others of which are rushes, and the rest true grasses. Acadia’s web site even features a handy rhyme to distinguish a sedge from a rush from a grass. Continue reading

Acadia National Park proposes to keep Isle au Haut primitive

UPDATED 12/13/14: Final management plan released, see link at bottom of story.

Acadia National Park in July released a 30-page draft report that shows the reasons Isle au Haut is such a special place and spells out efforts to keep it that way.

The National Park Service’s draft “Visitor Use Management Plan” for Isle au Haut recommends only a minor increase in the longtime daily cap on the number of visitors to the island, the first such increase in more than 30 years.

Eben's Head is a spectacular rocky promontory on Isle au Haut

Eben’s Head, a rocky promontory, can easily be climbed and is great for watching a sunset on Isle au Haut.

The draft, which will be discussed at an Aug. 5 public hearing, includes a plethora of other important, but so far little-noticed, points:

— Shush! Stay quiet about this island 6,500-acre paradise, half of which is owned and managed by the park service. In order to protect the island from too much use, the draft says the park service will continue a so-called “non-promotion” policy for Isle au Haut. Tourists on Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula, the two other sections of the Maine national park, generally will not get information about Isle au Haut unless they ask. 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

Lady’s slippers are blooming pink and white again in Acadia National Park

It is a little later than usual this year, but lady’s slippers are back in bloom at Acadia National Park.

Lady's slippers in Acadia National Park

Lady’s slippers are showing their pink and white colors in June in Acadia National Park.

Our friend Maureen took the above photo of the orchids on Monday during a hike in the park. The photo shows a large colony of pink and white lady’s slippers growing in the shade of a boulder and pine in a hidden spot in Acadia. Continue reading

Protected lady’s slippers in Acadia National Park

BAR HARBOR – In a rite of spring, we returned last week to Acadia National Park to look for a hidden colony of pink and white lady’s slippers. We also came to see the showy yellow orchid on public display at the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

Yellow lady's slippers in Acadia National Park

Don’t pick the yellow lady’s slippers

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