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 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.
- 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.