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Summer 2013 Updates

from the Summer 2013 Friends of Acadia Journal

On the Way to Five Million!
Each year, Friends of Acadia estimates a virtual traffic jam that would be created by placing front-to-back all the cars and RVs that Island Explorer passengers chose not to drive. This annual figure is then added to a cumulative total (since 1999) to see how far the traffic jam stretches. In 2012 the Island Explorer carried 439,053 passengers. We estimated that another 342 miles would have been added, taking the traffic jam 2,890 miles from Acadia National Park south past Freeport, to Long Key Park in the Florida Keys, back up the west coast of Florida, past Yankeetown, then west through Apalachicola National Forest, on to Freeport, Florida, then along the Old Spanish Trail to Pensacola, through Mobile, Alabama, past Diamondhead, Hancock County, and New Orleans, Louisiana through Sorrento and past Baton Rouge and Beaumont. On still to Houston, San Antonio, past Wildwood and Comfort, to just beyond Junction, Texas!

The free and propane-powered bus service, now in its 15th year, is funded by the state and federal government as well as grants from L.L.Bean, Friends of Acadia, local towns, businesses, and passenger donations. The Island Explorer hopes to transport its five-millionth passenger in the fall of 2013. In order to reach that milestone, the service needs to transport 10,000 more passengers in 2013 than it did in 2012. So park your car and hop on!

Evaluating Youth Programs
Friends of Acadia is undertaking a new effort this year to evaluate three of the organization’s youth programs and investments. The Acadia Youth Technology Team (AYTT) is a group of interns working with two leaders to brainstorm, implement, and evaluate technology projects designed to improve the Acadia visitor experience and connect younger generations to the park. Park rangers will be using two of the team’s ideas this summer: 1) the Digital Media Interpretation Kit, a television screen hooked up by adapter to a spotting scope to show the peregrine falcon chicks more easily to visitors, and 2) the mobile iPad lab, a group of iPads outfitted with specific applications that enhance ranger-led birding and botany tours. This summer, the team will work with the AYTT evaluation fellow, Sara Greller, a recent graduate of Antioch University New England with a Masters of Science in Environmental Studies, to observe visitor and ranger behaviors and record comments (with proper warning to the visitors) at the Peregrine Watch and on selected ranger programs. The goal is to determine whether the technologies are enhancing or detracting from the visitor experience.

Friends of Acadia will also be evaluating Family Fun Day, a summer event intended to introduce families and young people to activities that they can enjoy in Acadia National Park. From rock climbing to riding horses, young people are exposed to outdoor adventures as well as fun educational opportunities about park resources. This is the 8th year of Family Fun Day, presenting Friends of Acadia with rich opportunities to survey current and past participants about whether the day influenced their future activities in the park and/or encouraged greater connections to environmental
stewardship.

Similarly, FOA will undertake an evaluation of Acadia Quest, the “experiential scavenger hunt” designed to encourage multigenerational teams to explore, learn about, and protect Acadia National Park through a series of self-directed outdoor activities in the park. This year, the program is focused on hiking. Team participants must document their hikes on twelve trails in at least four trail categories (community/connector trails, trails by lakes and ponds, moderate summits, difficult summits, oceanside trails, and trails at Schoodic or Isle au Haut). Friends of Acadia will analyze participation statistics and will survey participants to determine their motivation for participating and whether the Quest fostered greater connections to Acadia.

Through evaluation, Friends of Acadia will be better able to gauge the effectiveness of its youth investments, change programs as needed, and work with the park successfully to engage the next generation of park stewards.

APPL Presentations
Friends of Acadia staff members Lisa Horsch Clark and Stephanie Clement and Acadia Youth Technology Team (AYTT) intern Audyn Curless were invited to give presentations at the 2012 Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) conference this spring in Portland, Oregon. The APPL conference brings together partner organizations and agency representatives for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other state and federal land management agencies.

Lisa participated in a panel discussion regarding accountability to donors and teamed up with staff from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to deliver a session on “Comprehensive Fundraising: The Bridges between Membership, Events, and Major and Estate Gifts.” Stephanie and Audyn joined forces to share the AYTT model. Their presentation, “Youth-Powered Think-Tanks: Exploring Innovative Technology Uses,” featured the AYTT’s projects and the evaluation process to determine their effectiveness in improving the visitor experience and ranger programdelivery.Most importantly, however, Stephanie and Audyn included recommendations on how to adapt the AYTT model for other public lands across the country. Acadia National Park Ranger Ardrianna McLane was scheduled to present the park’s perspective, but could not attend due to budget cuts associated with the federal sequester. All presentations were warmly received.

Acadia Park Pass Art Competition Winner
Dawson Burnett, a student at Mount Desert Elementary School, was the winner of the 2013 Acadia National Park Pass Competition. Friends of Acadia President David MacDonald and Acadia National Park Ranger Ryan McKelvey announced the award at the MDES Awards Assembly on Wednesday, April 3, and presented a check for $50 and a park-themed gift bag to Mr. Burnett. His artwork will appear on the ANP annual pass window decals for the coming year (see inside front cover of this Journal).

Every year, Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia co-sponsor the competition, selecting a winner from among hundreds of designs by local elementary school students to be featured on the annual park pass. The $40 annual pass is good for one year from its month of purchase. Eighty percent of the fees collected through park pass sales stay in Acadia, to be used for projects that directly benefit park visitors and resources.

New Web Presence for Friends of Acadia
Friends of Acadia launched a new website in May, and we couldn’t be more pleased! Site features include:
• An improved online donation platform
• The Cobblestones blog, with news, insights, and stories from FOA staff and volunteers
• Information on Friends of Acadia events, volunteer schedules, ski grooming conditions, and more
• Resources for planning a park-friendly visit to Acadia
• “My Acadia,” a slide show for members and park visitors to share their photos of Acadia National Park
• Tools to help Friends of Acadia supporters interact with us, including a volunteer information request form, Journal submission forms and information, businesses sponsorship information and spec sheets, and more
• Online event registration
• Photographs of Acadia in all seasons.

The new website offers something for everyone with an interest in Acadia, from the first-time visitor to the dedicated Friends of Acadia member or volunteer. FOA staff worked with Integra Strategic Technologies Consulting, a web firm based in Portland, Maine, to design and develop the site.

Acadia Trail Quest a Hit
More than 150 teams have already registered for the all-new 2013 Acadia Quest, which challenges kids and their families to “Explore, Protect, and Learn” with a focus on Acadia’s trails. The new Quest format sends participants out to walk, hike, and scramble along local community trails, village connectors, and the park’s pond, ocean, and summits trails. Teams take photos or trail sign rubbings to document their adventures, and “Challenge” activities add an intellectual or other twist.

Teams are invited to post photos to the Friends of Acadia Facebook page. By all appearances, some great hikes are being had and wonderful connections to Acadia being made along the way. The Quest runs through early November, so there’s plenty of time to join the fun! Visit the Friends of Acadia website for details and online registration.

Volunteers Needed for Community-Based Invasive Plant Management
In celebration of National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 28th, Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park invite community volunteers to help manage invasive plants on the Great Meadow Loop or the Schooner Head Path in Bar Harbor. With the support of Nature Valley and the National Park Conservation Association, Friends of Acadia has hired a volunteer liaison to work with volunteers in the communities surrounding Acadia to manage and raise awareness about invasive species and their threat to the natural ecology of this area. The volunteer liaison is working in the field throughout the summer and planning community outreach events focused on education and volunteerism.

To register, or for more information, please contact Terry Begley at terry@friendsofacadia.org.

Acadia Night Skies Festival
The 5th Annual Acadia Night Skies Festival will be held September 26–30, in and around Acadia National Park. Events are still being planned, but highlights include a “Bioluminescent Night Paddle,” night sky photography workshops, star parties at several Acadia locations, and the ever-popular “Picnic with the Planets” on the Bar Harbor Village Green.

Last year, more than 3,600 people participated in the Festival. Friends of Acadia has been a co-sponsor of this event since its inception, working with the planning committee and helping to staff some events. For event descriptions and other information, visit www.acadianightskyfestival.com.

A Score of Seasonal Staff
Friends of Acadia has hired a record number of seasonal staff for the 2013, some returning and some new. Together, they bring an impressive range of abilities and experiences for the benefit of Acadia National Park.

Ben Dunphey is the new field crew leader. Ben is a 2012 graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He has experience working with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the US Forest Service,working on trails, leading groups, and working with youth. He joins field crew leader Anna Adams in coordinating and leading the Stewardship Volunteer Program on the trails and carriage roads of Acadia.

Jeanne Kannegieser is the summer events coordinator in the FOA office. She has worked in a variety of natural resource-based organizations including the Arnold Arboretum, International Paper, and the Maine Department of Conservation. Jeanne’s experience with database management will help the Development team keep track of the many events FOA will host this summer.

Chris Kasprak is the seasonal communications assistant, based in the FOA office but spending a lot of time out in the field. A 2012 graduate of Colby College, he has held internships at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s photo and multimedia departments, and worked as the Okemo Mountain Resort snow reporter. Chris is producing videos for the Friends of Acadia website to highlight different FOA events and programs. He also manages social media and the new FOA blog, Cobblestones.

Hilary Krieger, a graduating senior from Colorado State University, will work with park staff as the Environmental Compliance/Recreation Management Intern. She will help the park’s trail and carriage road programs with environmental compliance documentation and will assist resource management with tracking visitor usage at Anemone Cave and monitoring vehicle numbers at the Hulls Cove visitor center during the busiest season. This is a one-year position.

Other seasonal employees are Ari Gillar-Leinwohl, the new Exotic Plant Management Team Volunteer Liaison; Geneva Langley, veteran Wild Gardens of Acadia head gardener and Noah Sawyer, the Wild Gardens intern; returning Acadia Youth Technology Team (AYTT) leader Kevin Tabb, the new AYTT evaluation fellow Sara Greller, and the team’s six interns, David Anderson, Audyn Curless, Sophia Krevans, Liam Torrey, Tyler Wood, and Nicholas Wray; four Ridge Runners, Kristin Dillon, Jared Garfield, Allison Kuzar, and Moira O’Neill; and Recreation Technician Abby Seymour.

In addition, Friends of Acadia supports the hiring of more than 130 seasonal employees serving Acadia, including the teens of the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, Island Explorer bus drivers, park trails and carriage roads maintenance workers, and many others.

Mike Siklosi Honored at Annual Meeting
More than 225 members, volunteers, and supporters of Friends of Acadia gathered in the Bar Harbor Club’s ballroom on July 11th for the Annual Meeting. Remarks by FOA board chair Ed Samek, Acadia National Park superintendent Sheridan Steele, FOA conservation director Stephanie Clement, and FOA president David MacDonald all celebrated the many accomplishments of 2012, while emphasizing the need to look ahead and find creative and big-picture solutions to new challenges arising for Acadia as the park nears its 2016 centennial.

A highlight of the event was the presentation of the Marianne Edwards Distinguished Service Award, Friends of Acadia’s highest honor, to outgoing Friends of Acadia Board of Directors member Mike Siklosi. While making the presentation, David MacDonald noted Siklosi’s mission-focused sensibility, his appreciation for governance issues, and his “generous concern for the people and relationships that are the heart of this organization’s culture and tradition of success.” Siklosi had served on the board for nine years, during that time chairing the Governance/ Nominating Committee. The Marianne Edwards Award is named for the organization’s late founder.

Other awards given at the meeting were the Conservation Colleague Award to the Trenton Marketplace IGA and owner Kim Murphy for longtime support of Friends of Acadia activities in Trenton including the Island Explorer, the Trenton Community Trail, and the Earth Day Roadside Cleanup; the Distinguished Public Service Award to David Manski, ANP Chief of Resource Management, for more than two decades of dedicated partnership with Friends of Acadia for the benefit of Acadia’s natural and cultural resources; and the Community Conservation Award to photographer Howie Motenko for his inspired community art project, “Painting Bridges.”

Ridge Runners and Rec Tech Study Trail Use on Sargent Mountain
Acadia’s bald granite summits, offering expansive views in all directions, are one of the many things that visitors appreciate about Acadia. Unfortunately, visitors often wander off the trails to pick blueberries or seek out a better view or quieter lunch location. Frequently this results in trampling of alpine vegetation and the creation of social trails. Friends of Acadia and the park have partnered for sixteen years on the Ridge Runner program, intended to educate visitors about ways to enjoy the park without harming summit vegetation.

This year, the Ridge Runners and Recreation Technician are assisting the University of Vermont and Utah State University on a special study at Sargent Mountain. The goal of the study is to understand visitor use patterns at the summit under three study scenarios: 1) contact from a Ridge Runner encouraging visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles, which recommends staying on the trail or hiking on durable surfaces; 2) signage encouraging Leave No Trace practices; or 3) no signage or contacts (the control). Visitor use patterns are tracked using Global Positioning System (GPS) units that are handed out and collected on the trails pre- and post-summiting.

Researchers will determine which, if any, methods of education produced statistically significant differences in visitor behavior. Data collection will be complete by August. The second portion of the study is to inventory the ecological conditions using photos of a defined summit area of Sargent. Together with information on visitor travel patterns, the park will be able to determine the best ways to encourage hiking that does not harm summit vegetation. Pending the outcomes of the study, the park may be able to apply this research methodology and/or knowledge gained to other summits in the park.