By David MacDonald, Friends of Acadia President and CEO
As many of us have experienced this year, Acadia’s roads and parking lots can, at times, become crowded or even gridlocked with too many vehicles. Since Friends of Acadia’s earliest days (and we turn 30 this year!), our members have been concerned about “sustainable visitation” that provides a high quality experience while protecting park resources. So we applaud park and NPS staff for launching a major transportation planning project last year, and stand ready to help however we can.
Last week, the Acadia National Park transportation planning work reached an important milestone with the release of “preliminary concepts” of possible future management strategies for addressing growing visitation, vehicular congestion, public safety, and a quality visitor experience at Acadia. The concepts focus on but aren’t limited to the Park Loop Road, Cadillac Summit Road, Schoodic Loop Road, and associated parking lots.
The preliminary concepts can be found online. Download the PDF under the “Document Content” section at the bottom of the page.
Now the public—meaning FOA members and volunteers, residents of Acadia’s surrounding communities, longtime visitors, and, frankly, everyone who cares about this remarkable place—is being asked to review and comment on those preliminary concepts. The more that park users like you and me give feedback, the better the final plan will serve us all.
(Be sure to comment via the official website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=203&projectID=58482&documentID=75664, as ideas posted on this page will not make it into the planning process.)
There’s a lot of information to assess. Like everyone, FOA has just received the concepts and we are in the process of reviewing and discussing them among our staff and board, in order to submit input as part of the public comment period, open through November 30. Although this is not the forum to weigh in on the specifics of each alternative, I want to offer three initial reactions from FOA:
1) We support this initiative. FOA commends the park for tackling these questions in a comprehensive manner and considering management options that are forward-looking and not isolated or temporary “band aids” to the stresses from visitation our park is undergoing.
2) FOA also supports the park’s fundamental goals of a high-quality visitor experience while protecting park resources, and while we understand that change can be hard to implement, FOA does not believe that the status quo is a viable or responsible course of action.
3) FOA is actively engaged and helping: we have been assisting the park with data collection and pilot programs during the planning process, and hope to continue to be a resource for the park and surrounding communities in the weeks and months to come.
In addition to the online documents, the park will offer two open houses where you can learn about the concepts and offer feedback. They will be held on Wednesday, November 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Peninsula School (71 Main Street/Route 186) in Prospect Harbor, and on Thursday, November 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mount Desert Island High School (1081 Eagle Lake Road/Route 233) in Bar Harbor.
I hope you will join FOA in helping Acadia to take this important step toward a better future. Thank you!