Tag Archives: schoodic-woods

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

Acadia among 200 federal advisory committees suspended

UPDATED 5/15/2017:  Story updated to reflect receiving statement from Heather Swift of Interior Department.

The Trump administration has abruptly suspended the meetings of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission and that of about 200 other federal advisory committees, as part of a broad Interior Department review of land use and management.

Jacqueline Johnston, chair of Acadia National Park Advisory Commission

Jacqueline Johnston, chair of Acadia National Park Advisory Commission

That means cancellation of a June 5 Acadia advisory commission meeting at park headquarters to tackle some of the most substantial issues facing the commission since its inception in 1986. And it may also affect a meeting scheduled for Sept. 11 at Schoodic.

Jacqueline Johnston of Gouldsboro, chair of the Acadia advisory commission, said she was “very surprised and disappointed” by the decision, which she found out about last week in an e-mail from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider, about Interior’s suspension of meetings by federal advisory committees.

The order now puts on hold the advisory commission’s official work on several major topics: Acadia’s acceptance of a private donation of more than 1,400 acres of land for Schoodic Woods without Congressional approval; a controversy surrounding park policy on worm, seaweed and shellfish harvesting in tidal flats; and the park’s transportation plan.

“It’s unfortunate that the commission cannot continue at this point with the good work it does to ensure that the public’s voice is heard,” said Johnston in an interview.

nationoal park week

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, right, has temporarily suspended meetings of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission and 200 other federal advisory committees. (DOI photo)

Acadia Superintendent Schneider shared the Interior directive with Acadia advisory commission members in an e-mail on May 9, saying that the department “has commenced a review of federal advisory committees … in order to ensure their compliance with both the Federal Advisory Committee Act and recent Executive Orders. Therefore … committee meetings nationwide scheduled through September 2017 are paused until further notice.”

In e-mailed  statement on Monday morning, an Interior Department spokeswoman called the suspension temporary, to allow Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke time to review the “charter and charge” of more than 200 federal advisory committees, including the Acadia advisory commission.

“The secretary is committed to restoring trust in the department’s decision-making, and that begins with institutionalizing state and local input and ongoing collaboration, particularly in communities surrounding public lands,” said spokeswoman Heather Swift in her statement.

“As the department concludes its review in the weeks ahead, agencies will notice future meetings to ensure that the department continues to get the benefit of the views of local communities in all decision-making on public land management.”

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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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Acadia campers fired up over Schoodic Woods Campground

At the new Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia National Park, Bill Mulvey paused to admire his site as he and his son, Pat, set up their tent last week.

Bill Mulvey of Phoenixville, Pa. and his son, Pat Mulvey, pitch their tent at the Schoodic Woods Campground.

Bill Mulvey of Phoenixville, Pa., left, and his son, Pat Mulvey of Philadelphia, right, begin pitching their tent at the Schoodic Woods Campground at Acadia National Park after arriving on the day of the 100th anniversary of Acadia.

Mulvey, a retired assistant manager for a supermarket company, said he reserved the site about a month before arriving on a Friday for the weekend and it was the only spot available at the “very popular” campground. Mulvey, of Phoenixville, Pa., and his son, a middle school teacher in Philadelphia public schools, are among people camping at the Schoodic Woods Campground during its first full season of operation.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, pointing to the greenery that buffers sites. “Look at these trees. This is great.”

Located on the dramatic Schoodic Peninsula, the only part of Acadia on the mainland, the 94-site campground opened on Sept. 1.

Schoodic Woods Campground

From left to right, Eleanor Goldberg and Malcolm Burson, both of Portland, Jon Luoma and Cathy Johnson, both of Alna, stand in their site at the Schoodic Woods Campground at Acadia National Park after a bike ride together on the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park.

During a visit on the actual 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park, July 8, Mulvey and other campers lauded the new campground which includes 4.7 miles of new hiking trails and 8.3 miles of new bike paths styled after the park’s carriage roads on Mount Desert Island.

“The bike paths are great,” said Eleanor Goldberg of Portland, who teaches English as a second language in adult education. “They are wide.”

Goldberg joined Malcolm Burson, public policy advisor for the Conservation Law Foundation, Cathy Johnson, a project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Jon Luoma, a watercolor painter, for a planned two nights at the Schoodic Woods Campground. Continue reading

Year in review: Top 5 Acadia stories, top 5 blog posts in 2015

UPDATE 2/14/2016: Revised 2015 park statistics show 2.8 million visitors to Acadia, most since 1995. Change primarily a result of more accurate count of Schoodic visitors. Link to final numbers here.

UPDATED 1/6/16: December visitors to Acadia total 13,880, pushing total in 2015 to 2.756 million, up 7.5% from 2014, most since 2.760 million in 1997. See updated story and link below to NPS statistics.

Here are the top 5 Acadia news stories for 2015, in Acadia on My Mind’s opinion:

Schoodic woods

Campers, hikers and bicyclists can find out more information about Schoodic Woods at this new visitor center.

  • Schoodic Woods opens – In the biggest addition to Acadia National Park in years, Schoodic Woods opened in September, with 94 RV and tent sites in the campground, and 8.3 miles of bike paths and 4.7 miles of hiking trails across more than 1,400 acres. The land had originally been proposed for a resort with hotel, golf course, sports center and luxury villas, but a change in ownership in 2011 led to a conservation easement and the development of Schoodic Woods, next to the existing Schoodic section of Acadia. The plan is to ultimately have the park-run Schoodic Woods become park property. The campground is open seasonally, but the trails are open year-round.

    Kevin Schneider was named the new superintendent of Acadia National Park.

    Kevin Schneider, deputy superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, is scheduled to start work as the new superintendent of Acadia National Park in January. Schneider replaces Sheridan Steele who retired in late October. (NPS Photo)

  • Record-breaking October, most visitors since 1997 – Acadia had more than 2.74 million visitors through November, up 7.6% over the same time last year. It’s the first time since 1997 that visitation broke 2.7 million. October saw 335,000 visitors, up 6.7% over that same month a year ago. A combination of warmer than usual weather, increased cruise ship traffic, national publicity from 2014, and a stronger economy may have all contributed to the greater numbers, according to Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for Acadia National Park. December drew 13,880 people to the park, bringing the total for 2015 to 2.756 million, up 7.5 percent over 2014. The park’s fare-free Island Explorer bus also broke records, with more than 533,000 passengers tallied, up 6 percent from last year.
  • Changing of the guard – Sheridan Steele retires as superintendent after 12 years with Acadia. Among the accomplishments he points to: Development of the Schoodic Education and Research Center at the old Naval base on Schoodic Peninsula, and of Schoodic Woods. The new superintendent, Kevin Schneider, begins on the job in late January.
  • Long-term transportation planning begins – With crowds leading to the shutdown of the Cadillac parking lot at peak times and other traffic issues, the park launched a long-term transportation planning process. Among the ideas being explored: Occasional car-free Saturday mornings, and more frequent Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor ferry service and Island Explorer buses to attract visitors to Schoodic.
  • President Obama’s July 2010 trip to Acadia used to push climate change action – Not once, but twice, the White House included a photo of President Obama and family hiking Cadillac in 2010 as part of calls to action on climate change. This summer, the photo was included in a climate action video. And a few weeks ago, the same photo was used in social media to illustrate President Obama’s comments during the UN Climate Change conference.

    President Barack Obama hikes Acadia National Park

    This July 2010 photo of President Barack Obama and family on top of Cadillac made a couple of appearances in 2015 climate change action media put out by the White House. (White House photo)

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New Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia offers plenty

Update: See new story on Schoodic Woods Campground including shower facilities offered by local businesses and extensive photo display of sites.

Bar Harbor retiree Alice Long was so excited about the new Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia, she set up a lawn chair in front of the gate at 7 a.m. on opening day, and couldn’t wait to become the first happy camper.

Schoodic woods

Campers, hikers and bicyclists can find out more information about Schoodic Woods at this new ranger station.

“After months of waiting for the campground to open, I was thrilled to arrive there and get a tent site,” said Long in an e-mail, recalling the fun atmosphere on Sept. 1, chatting with others in line behind her, and earning a little notoriety while she was at it.

When park officials finally let her and other early-bird campers into the new Schoodic Woods Ranger Station to register, “they kept telling everyone that ‘the lady in the green chair was number one’ – from then on, that’s what everyone called me,” said Long, who is also a park volunteer.

It’s not only Long who’s excited about the opening of Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia, which will feature 94 RV and tent sites once it’s fully completed next year, and already boasts 8.3 miles of bike paths and 4.7 miles of hiking trails for campers and day trippers.

schoodic woods

Explore Schoodic Woods by bike or on foot.

Park officials had Long sign a dollar bill, to be framed and hung in the new ranger station. US Sen. Angus S. King, Jr., camped with his RV at site B12 after he helped cut the ribbon. And so many other campers have wanted to be part of the inaugural season at Schoodic Woods, the limited number of available RV and tent sites have been filled up on a first-come, first-served basis several nights this month already.

Other reasons Schoodic Woods has been long awaited: The land that the campground and hiking and biking trails are on had been threatened by a proposal to develop a resort with hotel, golf course, sports center and luxury villas, until a change of ownership in 2011 led to a change in fortunes, so that Schoodic Woods is now part of Acadia National Park. Plus area businesses have been looking forward to a much-needed boost to the Schoodic Peninsula economy.

Here are some of the highlights of Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia and the area, to help you plan a camping or day trip to Schoodic Peninsula. The campground is open on a first-come, first-served basis through Columbus Day this inaugural year. Next season, it will be open late May through Columbus Day, with reservations recommended through www.recreation.gov.

The hiking trails and bike paths are open year-round, weather and conditions permitting, according to John Kelly, park management specialist. A 100-space day-use parking lot, a seasonal Island Explorer bus stop, and two sets of restrooms, one open in season and another open year-round, help complete the picture. Continue reading

Winter Festival to summer camping on Schoodic Peninsula

TO SEE 2016 WINTER FESTIVAL EVENTS, SEE UPDATE.

UPDATED 5/16/15: Schoodic Woods campground opening moved to Sept. 1

(See Acadia on My Mind’s new page for Schoodic Peninsula year-round lodging, restaurants, shopping)

Schoodic Peninsula has long been the quieter side of Acadia National Park, across Frenchman Bay and a world away from the summer hubbub of Bar Harbor.

Schoodic institute winter festival at acadia national park

Snow welcomes visitors to first-ever Winter Festival this week, hosted by the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. (Schoodic Institute photo)

But increasingly, the only section of the park on the mainland is becoming a four-season draw for educators, students, citizen scientists, researchers, birders, families with young children, artists and others.

Among the reasons for the growth of activity:

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