Section Navigation

Superintendent’s View

Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan SteeleSuperintendent’s View: 2016 – The Acadia Legacy
By Sheridan Steele
Summer 2015 Friends of Acadia Journal

Walking along Acadia’s rocky coast last summer, I really loved hearing a little boy of 7 or 8 yell to his parents above him, “Come down here! This is awesome!” Knowing that kids are finding inspiration in Acadia truly makes my day—especially as we look ahead to the dual centennial in 2016 for both the National Park Service and Acadia National Park. The purposes and approaches for these celebrations will be very different, just as each park is unique. But what is universal, from Acadia to Zion, is the truth that these special places are our nation’s natural and cultural heritage and are amazing tributes to the foresight of those who worked so hard to establish them.

The intent of the Acadia Centennial is to invite Maine communities, organizations, and businesses to participate in celebrating the importance of Acadia to area residents and the economy of the region. Its centennial is also a great opportunity to look ahead to Acadia’s second century and lay a solid foundation to address modern-day challenges. Enthusiasm for Acadia’s centennial spreads across the state and beyond, and already we know that more than 170 Acadia Centennial Partners will contribute to the celebration. The great response is a testament to both the power of working together with a common goal and the love we share for this amazing place. The centennial effort was started more than two years ago by the community-generated Acadia Centennial Task Force, which created many community working groups to reach out to individuals and organizations across Maine. For more information about how to get involved, visit This excellent website was developed by staff at Friends of Acadia and is another example of how this partnership contributes significantly to Acadia’s success.

In my role as Acadia’s superintendent over the last twelve years, I have chosen to focus on four goals that I believed will best positon the park to begin its second century. These are 1) protecting the land, 2) preserving a high-quality visitor experience, 3) assuring the success of the Schoodic Education and Research Center, and 4) making meaningful connections with the next generations of park stewards. With our partners Friends of Acadia and Maine Coast Heritage Trust, we have acquired almost 500 acres in 31 parcels to “fill in the holes” within the park’s boundaries and we have added another 1,300 acres in conservation easements that will prevent incompatible development on private land surrounding the park. We have seen the former Navy base at Schoodic transformed into a beautiful new campus, and our newest nonprofit partner, the Schoodic Institute, work together with park staff to significantly improve education and science programming. Better science means better park management and lifelong learning is more important than ever to a growing number of people. With the increasing popularity of Acadia National Park and associated additional traffic, we are working hard to develop a better plan for dealing with transportation issues in the future. Fortunately the Island Explorer buses have been immensely helpful; last summer they carried more than a half-million people, who were then not driving and parking in the park. The new facilities at Schoodic Woods will help us serve more visitors and hopefully get them out of their cars and into Acadia’s spectacular natural environment. Finally, Friends of Acadia has provided strong leadership in our efforts to engage young people with programs like the Youth Tech Team, the Ridge Runners, Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, and the Acadia Teacher Fellows. I hope these priorities will prepare us for continued success in the second century of ANP.

I believe that the most enduring legacy of Acadia is a meaningful connection between millions of people and their national parks. In a word, it is inspiration. Those who felt that inspiration a century ago donated or sold their undeveloped land, built trails that today are “historic,” or helped to construct the Park Loop Road and carriage roads. This great tradition of sharing in the effort of sustaining a spectacular national park continues today with thousands of donors and volunteers helping in myriad ways. Thanks to an amazing history of “private action for public benefit” and key partners like Friends of Acadia, the Schoodic Institute, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and Downeast Transportation, we have been fortunate to make great progress in forever protecting Acadia and improving quality services to the millions of people who come for relaxation, education, outdoor recreation, lifelong learning, science, or just good memories. Acadia is truly an extraordinary place that will always inspire new generations of park supporters. The rapidly approaching Acadia Centennial will provide many opportunities to reaffirm that commitment, redefine our involvement, and shape our shared responsibilities in its future. Join us for the activities, events, and discussions about the next century’s challenges and opportunities for Acadia National Park.