Chairman’s Letter: “Don’t it always seem to go…”
By Ed Samek
Fall/Winter 2013 Friends of Acadia Journal
The classic Joanie Mitchell song continues, “. . . you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” I imagine that more than a few Acadia visitors were unconsciously humming that tune as they considered the “park closed” signs posted at all Acadia entrances for the first 16 days in October.
Obviously, we haven’t “lost” Acadia, but we did get a peek into a possible future of a much less supported and less accessible Acadia National Park. And it is a future that none of us want! The good news is that now, with heightened awareness of what might be, Friends of Acadia, with your help, can do a lot to avoid such a future state.
By and large, I believe that those who read this Chairman’s Letter do know what we have here at Acadia National Park. Why else would four hundred of you get up early on a Saturday in November to rake leaves on Acadia’s carriage roads? Why else would we send the FOA president to testify before Congress on the importance of federal support for America’s national parks? Why else would the Acadia Winter Trails volunteers climb on their snowmobiles after every snow storm—often before sunrise, spending hours working in frigid temperatures— to groom Acadia’s carriage roads for skiing? Why else would thousands of individuals, couples, and families support the FOA Annual Fund and send in their FOA membership gift every year?
Friends of Acadia’s members, volunteers, and supporters appreciate the matchless gift of Acadia. We recognize the many ways Acadia enriches our lives—as a peaceful destination for family picnics and quiet contemplation, as a beautiful view every day as we commute to work, as an endless source of recreational opportunities for generations of summer and year ’round residents and decades of visitors from away, as an economic engine for surrounding communities, as a draw for our friends and family to come visit, and so much more. Acadia gives, and gives, and gives. And we, the members, volunteers, and supporters of Friends of Acadia, know that the more we give back to Acadia, the more it will shower us with gifts anew . . . today, tomorrow, and for the generations to come.
Still, there’s nothing like the threat of irredeemable loss to move one to action. When George B. Dorr was working to protect these lands almost a century ago, it was the imminent purchase of Sieur de Monts Spring by a water bottling corporation that pushed Dorr to acquire the property himself. It was the start of construction of a large estate on the eastern shore of Eagle Lake that led to the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations’ commitment to protect MDI’s pristine lakes and ponds. And it was the threatened revocation of the Trustees’ state charter that finally sent Dorr to Washington, DC to pursue federal protection for this place he loved so dearly.
Likewise, I know that the cutbacks on seasonal openings and services due to the federal sequester last spring, followed by the government shutdown and shuttering of America’s national parks in October, will serve as a wakeup call to many Americans and especially to those of us who love and value Acadia National Park, to renew our appreciation for these treasures and our commitment to protecting them for all to enjoy.
Bad things can happen, but they don’t have to. For example, we once thought that surrounding plant life on Acadia’s carriage roads might grow in until the carriage roads became nothing but walking paths, or that public transportation couldn’t make a dent in MDI’s summer traffic. Thanks to the timely actions of Friends of Acadia, we’ve seen a better outcome! Working with thoughtful donors and supporters, we created the carriage road endowment and the Island Explorer, and we now have the tools to manage those threats. As new and greater concerns arise, Friends of Acadia remains the best agent to respond on behalf of our members, volunteers, supporters, and all those who love and care for Acadia National Park. Thank you for being among them. We are important, significant, and relevant!