Chairman’s Letter: We Are the Future… and the Past
By Ed Samek
Spring 2015 Friends of Acadia Journal
The future and the past? This may seem contradictory, confusing, or just plain wrong. But, like so many things, meaning and “truth” depend on where you stand. If you were looking at our today—spring, 2015—from 1916, the year of Acadia National Park’s birth; or from the vantage point of 1986, when Friends of Acadia was formed— you would clearly view 2015 as the future.
If those who preceded us had not worked to respect, protect, and preserve Acadia National Park, ours would be a very different—and diminished—experience. We, who are their future benefit greatly from what they did. They have become our past. Now, it is our turn—in fact our responsibility and obligation—to plan for our future so that our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come will be able to look back to how we thoughtfully, wisely, and effectively planned for their present in what they will see as their past.
For example: it’s easy to understand why the Cadillac summit is one of the busiest spots in Acadia. At 1,532 feet it features sweeping views, a rare sub-alpine environment, and the first sunrise in the continental US in wintertime. When you get up so high—to stand on the shoulders of Acadia—your view of the world is altered: broader, more encompassing, more inspiring! No wonder Cadillac’s summit sees up to six thousand visitors per day during Acadia’s peak season.
But look closely and you’ll see that the Cadillac summit is challenged by buses too large to safely navigate the Summit Road’s hairpin curves and threatened by a century of visitors’ footsteps on delicate native flora. Today, Friends of Acadia is partnering with Acadia National Park to research, design, and pilot solutions to identified challenges and threats as quickly as possible, to assure that the Cadillac summit will continue to inspire visitors well into the future.
Similarly, we are engaged with the park on such concerns as 1) the impact of auto congestion on the visitor experience and park preservation, and 2) how to connect youth with Acadia in the 21st century, which likely means balancing the timeless appeal of parks to kids with the changing appeal of parks to kids—and understanding the difference.
The conservationists and stewards who today are Friends of Acadia stand on the shoulders of those individuals who came before us: the park founders, CCC crews, land donors, Hudson River School artists, generous financial supporters, and so many others who for more than a hundred years have created and protected the Acadia we know and love today. Among the accomplishments of Friends of Acadia over our almost-30-year history are the restoration and endowment of the carriage roads and hiking trails; the creation and funding of youth-stewardship opportunities like the Ridge Runners, Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, and Acadia Youth Technology Team; and the introduction and support of the environmentally friendly Island Explorer bus system.
I know that “without you, there is no us.” Whether you are a volunteer, a donor, or other supporter, those achievements would not have happened without support from you and those like you. This is the time of year that Friends of Acadia reaches out to all members to ask them to renew their membership for another year. I hope that each of you who are a member will do so. I hope that those of you who are not yet members but enjoy this magazine and enjoy the park and will consider joining this year.
Thank you for sharing your love and appreciation for Acadia National Park.
—Edward L. Samek