New Acadia hiking trails foreman takes reins at key time
A new foreman is leading the way for work on Acadia hiking trails.
David Schlag, the new foreman of the Acadia trails crew, stands outside the crew’s trailer in Acadia National Park.
David Schlag, a 14-year veteran of the crew, is taking over as Acadia National Park trails crew foreman at a time when the park is facing some headwinds: trail damage from extreme weather events, increasing wear and tear on the trails with record crowds and a continuing shortage of seasonal workers.
Schlag will also oversee what could be one of the more transformational projects in years for Acadia hiking trails. The National Park Service is planning several trail extensions and a rehabilitation of the birch-lined Hemlock Path to make it more accessible, possibly with a boardwalk, as part of a more comprehensive effort to restore the Great Meadow.
This section of Hemlock Path with its birch trees is much photographed, and set for a major overhaul to improve drainage and accessibility as part of the restoration of Acadia’s Great Meadow. It’s one of the projects to be overseen by David Schlag, the new Acadia trails foreman.
Acadia National Park is poised “any day now” to take over the vacant Bass Harbor Head Light Station, setting the stage for a new era for the iconic lighthouse, one of the most popular attractions within the park’s boundaries.
Acadia National Park will be assuming ownership of Bass Harbor Head Light from the Coast Guard “any day now.” (Photo courtesy of Greg Saulmon)
Ahead of becoming the new owner, Acadia is weighing recommendations in a new study of Bass Harbor Head Light by the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center. The “Bass Harbor Head Light Station Historic Structure Report,” produced with funds donated by the Friends of Acadia, is aimed at guiding future rehabilitation and repair work at the 2.75-acre complex including the original 1858 lighthouse with its cylindrical brick tower, the 1858 keeper’s dwelling, and the 1905 wood-frame garage.
The Coast Guard currently owns the iconic lighthouse and other structures and has been planning to transfer it to Acadia since 2017.
So picture-postcard perfect is Bass Harbor Head Light, it graces this year’s $55 Acadia annual pass. (Image courtesy of NPS)
“Apparently, all the paperwork is sitting with the General Services Administration and they need to do sort of the final paperwork to get it to us,” John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia National Park, said. “It should have happened a long time ago. It is really any day now but we have been saying any day now for months.”
When it assumes ownership, the National Park Service is hopeful of finding a partner to staff, operate and maintain the lighthouse and other buildings, maybe, for instance, a nonprofit group such as Eastern National, which promotes education of National Parks with books, other products and services, or the Tremont Historical Society, Kelly said.
Update: Acadia National Park announced in early August that a pilot for the vehicle reservation system will be held from Oct. 1 to 18 of 2020. Reservations, costing $2 for each vehicle in addition to regular park pass, need to be made online at recreation.gov to enter Sand Beach Station from 7 am to 5 pm and Cadillac from 4:30 am to 6:30 pm from Oct. 1 to 18. A specific parking spot is not guaranteed but the plan is to guarantee a parking spot somewhere within the reserved area for each vehicle that makes a reservation.
The pandemic has delayed openings at Acadia National Park and indefinitely postponed operation of shuttle buses, but leaders are forging ahead with plans for a trial run this fall of a parking reservation system for Cadillac Mountain and Ocean Drive, with people allowed to make online reservations in August.
A parking reservation system to help ease congestion like this on Cadillac starts a trial run in the fall, with sign-ups beginning in August. (NPS photo)
The dry run for parking at a reserved site and driving at Cadillac and along Ocean Drive between the Sand Beach Entrance booths and Otter Cliff Road will be held in October. Reservations to access those areas can be made well ahead of the test run, probably as early as Aug. 1 over the same web-based system currently used for reservations at National Park Service campgrounds.
Acadia is also planning a reservation system to park at the north lot of Jordan Pond starting not before 2022, but that location will not be in the trial run, according to John T. Kelly, management assistant at Acadia National Park.
The parking reservation system is a key aspect of the 2019 transportation plan to manage Acadia traffic. (Image courtesy of NPS)
The vehicle reservation system, a key aspect of the park’s new transportation plan to reduce traffic congestion, is planned to operate for a full visitor season for the first time in 2021 between June 23 and the second Monday in October at Cadillac summit and the Ocean Drive Corridor, or past the entrance to Sand Beach. The test drive is aimed at providing important lessons for running the system in 2021.
Kelly acknowledged uncertainties, but he said the coronavirus pandemic so far is not altering plans for the dry run of the vehicle reservation system.
“There is so much unknown that I can’t say for certain anything really but we are on schedule and we have every intent on doing the trial run and keeping it going next year,” Kelly said in a phone interview.
“It is a great opportunity to get the bugs out of what we are preparing and end up going into the off season versus starting it next June and going into the busiest part of the season.” Continue reading →
The Acadia National Park Advisory Commission is planning to resume meetings, following a sudden suspension of their meetings by the Trump administration in May.
Jacqueline Johnston, chair of the Acadia advisory commission
Ryan Zinke, the secretary of interior, had suspended the meetings of the Acadia commission and more than 200 other federal advisory committees to give his department time to review the “charter and charge” of the panels.
In a press release Thursday, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine announced that the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission will be able to resume its meetings after September 1st and can now begin communicating accordingly.
Jacqueline Johnston of Gouldsboro, chair of the Acadia advisory commission, said she was relieved by the end of the suspension. The all-volunteer commission is planning to meet next on Sept. 11 at the Schoodic section of the park, after being required to cancel a June meeting, which was scheduled to deal with important issues such as a transportation plan for the park.
Johnston said she was happy for the support of Collins and King, who had written a letter to Zinke urging him to reconsider his decision to suspend the Acadia Commission.
“It was clear they were very active in supporting the commission and voicing their concerns and they are certainly two very influential senators,” Johnston said in an interview on Friday. Continue reading →