Tag Archives: national-park-service

Acadia Centennial helps draw record 3.2 million park visitors

The Acadia Centennial has helped attract more than 3.2 million visitors so far to the national park this year, capped by record attendance for October.

acadia national park hiking

Views like these along Jordan Pond in October helped draw record crowds to Acadia this year.

An eye-popping 412,416 people visited during October, up 19.8 percent from last year’s monthly record of 344,362, according to statistics from the National Park Service.

Through October, visitors during the Acadia Centennial totaled 3.234 million, up 17.7 percent from last year. Depending on the weather, visitation could total 3.3 million for this year, said John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia.

Kelly said visitation this year reached 3 million for the first time since at least 1990, when the park changed the way it counts visitors. The previous record since 1990 was 2.845 million in 1995, according to the federal statistics.

Some good aspects of the crowds are that people came to enjoy the park and the park therefore collected more revenues from entrance fees and local businesses saw a boost, but the downsides include traffic congestion during peak periods.

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)

Visitation during the summer of the Acadia Centennial produced some staggering numbers.  In September, visitation was 570,434, up 19 percent from the same month last year; August, 735,945, up 10 percent; July, 696,854, up 15 percent; and June, 445,410 up 24 percent.

Visitors to the Schoodic Peninsula, the only section of the park on the mainland, reached 276,233 through October, up 31 percent from 210,549 during the same 10 months last year. More people went to Schoodic because of the new Schoodic Woods Campground and more than 8 miles of new bike paths.
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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

President Obama “not done yet” with land conservation

In a speech at Yosemite National Park, President Barack Obama may have given some new hope to supporters of a new national monument in Northern Maine, saying he is “not done yet” in protecting public lands.

president obama

President Obama and family visit Yosemite on Father’s Day. (White House photo)

President Obama did not specifically mention the proposed 87,500-acre monument in Northern Maine in his remarks on Saturday, but he emphasized his record of creating monuments and taking other conservation actions, and suggested there’s more to come. He mentioned President Abraham Lincoln’s creation of Yosemite park and President Theodore Roosevelt’s famed visit to Yosemite with John Muir.

“Since I took office, I have been proud to build on the work of all those giants who came before me to support our national resources and to help all Americans get out in the great outdoors. We protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters – that is more than any administration in history.

“We have designed new monuments and historic sites that better reflect the story of all our people. Along with those famous sites like Gettysburg we can also see monuments to Cesar Chavez or Pullman porters in Chicago.”

“We have more work to do to to preserve our lands and our culture and our history. We are not done yet.”

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Q&A with Lucas St. Clair on Maine Woods monument

Lucas St. Clair is the president of Elliotsville Plantation, a private nonprofit organization that owns 87,500 acres in Northern Maine just east of Baxter State Park. Elliotsville is seeking to donate the land to the federal government for creation of a Maine Woods National Monument. St. Clair is the son of Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy philanthropist who purchased the land and created Elliotsville Plantation. St. Clair discussed with Acadia on My Mind the bid for a national monument, how Acadia National Park inspired the proposal, as well as the foundation’s plans to donate more than 60 acres on Mount Desert Island to Acadia this year. St. Clair is among those invited to speak during  a U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources hearing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at the East Millinocket Town Office, according to a memo by the committee. The committee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. [Livestream hearing]

What makes the land special that it qualifies for national monument status?

maine woods

Lucas St. Clair, president of Elliotsville Plantation, was born in Dover-Foxcroft and grew up in a hand-built log cabin. (Photo courtesy of Lucas St. Clair)

Lucas St. Clair: There’s many, many things. The ecosystem has lots of flora and fauna that only live in this part of Maine. It is a unique part of the national landscape. It is a Northern Hardwood Forest and is not well represented in the National Park System. This landscape influenced the birth of America’s conservation movement through Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Roosevelt. The understanding of plate tectonics from a geologic standpoint was proven on this landscape by a USGS geologist in the 1950s. It has three incredible watersheds – the east branch of the Penobscot River, Seboeis Stream and the Wassataquoik Stream. And incredible views of Mount Katahdin. It acts as a climate refuge and it is also a very important piece of landscape for the Wabanaki people.

What are the main reasons you want to create a national monument?

St. Clair: To protect a resource that offers all of the things I just described and beyond that, to bring economic benefits to the Katahdin region, a region that needs economic revitalization and a diversified economy. National parks have been proven to do that all across the country.

Are we at a crucial time in the process with President Obama leaving office at the end of the year?

St. Clair: It’s the centennial of the National Park Service and these communities are not getting any better. From an economic standpoint, we are at a very crucial time. We are at a crucial time to revitalize the economy of the Katahdin region. Continue reading

Acadia boosts economy with $248M in 2015 visitor spending

Bolstering the case for national parks as an economic engine, a new report shows Acadia’s 2.8 million visitors last year pumped $247.9 million into the regional economy, while across the country, a record-setting 307.2 million visitors to all national parks spent $16.9 billion.

The report is sure to be brought up by supporters of a proposed national monument in the Katahdin region, which has been hit hard by paper mill closures, even as some area residents and officials vehemently oppose the idea, with Patten the most recent to reject it, by a 121-53 vote on April 19.

acadia boosts economy

Acadia National Park’s 2.8 million visitors spent $247.9 million in 2015, according to a new National Park Service report. (NPS graphic)

The parks’ economic impact is the most measured since the National Park Service refined its visitor spending analysis model in 2012. How Acadia boosts economy and other parks around the country affect whole regions is expected to be even greater this year, with more visitors anticipated during the Centennial year for both Acadia and the National Park Service.

“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, in releasing the report late yesterday, during National Park Week. “Each tax dollar invested in the National Park Service effectively returns $10 to the US economy because of visitor spending that works through local, state and the US economy.”

While the park service hasn’t publicly taken a position on Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby’s proposal to donate what’s now known as Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area for a national monument or national park, the report will certainly add to the broiling controversy. 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.

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New Acadia wayside exhibits mark history, seasons at park

Under sunny skies during a Labor Day weekend visit, Smriti Rao and her daughter, Nandita Karthik, 8, stopped along Acadia National Park’s Loop Road to enjoy new wayside exhibits overlooking Frenchman Bay.

Acadia wayside exhibit

Just south of Hulls Cove Visitor Center, a pullout on the Park Loop Road overlooking Frenchman Bay features this wayside exhibit, providing the history of how Mount Desert Island, Cadillac, Pemetic and Acadia got their names.

“I think they are very helpful,” Rao said on Sunday after pausing to read an exhibit titled “The French Connection,” describing the role that Samuel Champlain and others from France and elsewhere played in the history of Mount Desert Island. “It reminded me of what the French contributed.”

Her daughter, a third-grader, pointed to a section of the exhibit about the Wabanaki Indians and said it was similar to what she learned at school about Native American history.

Visitors to Acadia National Park this year, such as Smriti, Nandita and 6 others in their family up over the Labor Day weekend, may be surprised to see new roadside and other exhibits, erected in time for the park’s Centennial next year.

acadia wayside exhibit

Another wayside exhibit overlooking Frenchman Bay describes the importance of the bay throughout history and how it got its name. It identifies the Porcupine Islands, and includes photos of a birch bark canoe, a square-rigger and a cruise ship. Don’t just drive by. Stop and learn.

On Mount Desert Island, 64 new Acadia wayside exhibits were installed last fall and winter, including some that replaced exhibits dating from the 1970s and 1980s, said Lynne Dominy, chief of interpretation and education at Acadia National Park.

“Over a couple of months, suddenly everything was replaced across MDI,” she said. The exhibits can be found along the Cadillac Summit Loop and parking lot, the Jordan Pond House observation deck, the Park Loop Road and other parts of the island. Continue reading

Of diversity, Acadia and the National Park Service

When President Barack Obama hiked Cadillac Mountain with his family in 2010, he made news not only because he was the first sitting president to visit Acadia National Park, but also because it’s uncommon to see African Americans and other minorities in this country’s national parks.

President Barack Obama hikes Acadia National Park

President Barack Obama and family hiked Cadillac Mountain in July 2010 (White House photo)

When Dr. Amanda McCoy, 29, and Dr. Kristin Alves, 28, both orthopedic residents at Harvard, took a trip to Acadia for the first time last month, they caught the sunrise over Cadillac and hiked the Beehive, Gorham, South Bubble and the Ladder Trail, but they also noticed the lack of diversity in other visitors to the park.

acadia national park

Dr. Amanda McCoy, left, and Dr. Kristin Alves, on their way to South Bubble. McCoy, an African American who grew up outside Pittsburgh, and Alves, a Scottish American who hails from North Carolina, both noticed the lack of diversity while hiking in Acadia.

When Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe columnist and co-author of a new book,
“Project Puffin”
, and his wife honeymooned in Acadia more than 30 years ago, and went there on 2 other vacations, they enjoyed the challenging hikes and bird watching, but also lamented not seeing other African Americans on the trails.

“The thing my wife and I wish we would see more of” is African-American families “truly hiking, truly backpacking. That part is really, really white,” said Jackson, who’s also hit the trails in Yosemite, Death Valley, Great Smoky Mountains and other national parks, and written about them.

The lack of diversity in Acadia and elsewhere in the national park system, both in visitors and employees, has been a persistent issue, prompting studies to understand why, and initiatives to bring more people of color into the 59 national parks and nearly 350 other national park system units, from seashores to historic sites.

A 2011 report, “The National Park Service Comprehensive Survey of the American Public,” found African Americans the most “under-represented” visitor group, with Hispanic Americans not too far behind. The “2014 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government®” survey ranks the National Park Service 261st out of 314 agencies when it comes to support for diversity.

Derrick Jackson

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson on the hiking trail in New Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Derrick Z. Jackson)

With the Centennial year coming up in 2016 for both Acadia and the National Park Service, and America’s population and workforce more diverse than ever, those aren’t exactly welcome statistics. Efforts to address the glaring disparity have stepped up.

This weekend, coinciding with National Trails Day(R), marks the 3rd annual African American National Parks Event, to encourage African Americans and other minorities to visit a national park unit, take a photo and post it on Facebook or other social media. Last month, the Acadia National Parks Community Facebook page posted a series of articles about the need to diversify both national park visitors and employees. 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 eyes Sept. 5 deadline for Isle au Haut comments

Time is running out if you want to have a say on the future management of Isle au Haut, a spectacular part of Acadia National Park.

Goat Trail on Isle au Haut in Acadia National Park

The contrasts are dramatic along the Goat Trail on Isle au Haut.

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. Continue reading