President’s Message: Using a Milestone to Redirect the Road
By David R. MacDonald
Winter 2015 Friends of Acadia Journal
For many of us, a birthday ending in a zero is not something we look forward to. My recent passage into my fifties included a fair share of angst and gray hair. But aside from—and sometimes, because of—the gray, entering a new decade can also inspire reflection, celebration, a determination to tackle ambitious goals, and a reason to connect with friends old and new.
With Acadia National Park’s 100th year just about here, Friends of Acadia is truly excited about what 2016 will bring. From the early hours of January 1, when a handful of hearty souls will hike or ski up Cadillac Mountain to greet the first Acadia Centennial sunrise, to the long days of summer full of opportunities to celebrate Acadia’s past and inspire its future, we hope that all of you will be part of this historic year for our beloved park.
Acadia’s surrounding communities have embraced the Acadia Centennial as a chance to convey what is unique about this park and our relationships with it; to honor the vision of park founders and the public service of thousands of park employees who have contributed to this place over the years; and to discuss and act on ways to strengthen the park going forward. FOA is grateful to more than 240 businesses, individuals, and partner organizations that have stepped forward with centennial ideas and contributions. Visit www.acadiacentennial2016.org for both a description of these Acadia Centennial Partners and a calendar of events that continues to expand each week.
Together with this building excitement, however, comes a natural question: with parking lots and Island Explorer buses at times overflowing this past summer, will the celebration compound an existing capacity problem at Acadia?
I believe that 2016 is an opportunity to tap new public interest around the centennial, as well as the creativity and commitment that have long run deep here at Acadia, to take these questions beyond a single calendar year and truly set the direction for Acadia’s next century.
If those who come in 2016 have greater opportunities to learn about Acadia’s past and be engaged in shaping its future, then Acadia will be the better for it. Better yet, if this interaction plays out not just at busy spots like Cadillac or Jordan Pond during the busiest weeks of summer, but rather throughout the year and throughout the region in theaters, libraries, schools, art galleries, and festivals, we will be both relieving pressure on iconic park sites and deepening appreciation for all that our communities have to offer.
2016 will also be the year in which the National Park Service begins to shape alternatives under the Acadia transportation planning process it launched this year. FOA believes that Acadia must be a national leader on forward-looking and sustainable transportation practices that protect the Acadia experience and the natural qualities that inspired the park founders 100 years ago. What better time than 2016 to deepen these discussions and explore new approaches to providing the best possible Acadia experience?
I am also very pleased that the centennial year will kick off with Acadia’s new superintendent, Kevin Schneider, on the job and contributing immediately to this important work. While I had little doubt that the Acadia posting would attract a highly qualified field of applicants, I know that we are particularly lucky to have landed someone with Kevin’s credentials. As both acting and deputy superintendent at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Kevin has overseen a park with similar visitation and resource protection issues as Acadia, and has done so working closely with a successful friends group and dozens of other community partners. His earlier experience at parks like Yellowstone as well as years spent working as a communications and policy specialist in Washington make him a perfect addition to the Acadia team.
All of us owe thanks to NPS Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell for including Friends of Acadia and Schoodic Institute in the search process and for prioritizing a timely selection so that Acadia’s leadership won’t miss a beat at this critical time. I also want to recognize the wisdom of Kevin’s predecessor, Sheridan Steele, who surprised many of us by retiring before the centennial. Sheridan realized that the centennial year would be a terrific opportunity for a new superintendent to be smack in the middle of a critical chapter in Acadia’s history.
I hope that each of you will join Superintendent Schneider and his staff, Friends of Acadia, and our many partners in the surrounding communities in launching Acadia’s second century of conservation throughout the coming year of 2016—and well beyond! ❈