2023 Friends of Acadia Impact Report

Impact Report

A Groundbreaking Year
Jack Kelly

Dear Friends,

2023 was a groundbreaking year for Friends of Acadia and our partners at Acadia National Park. As our members and donors, you can feel proud of your impact.

In the spring, Acadia broke ground on its new state-of-the-art maintenance facility, which was funded through the Great American Outdoors Act. A few weeks later, Friends of Acadia and other partners celebrated the groundbreaking of the Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton—a critical transportation and information center for thousands of visitors each year.

And, in December, Friends of Acadia made history when we broke ground on new housing for eight of Acadia’s seasonal employees beginning in 2025.

There were other milestones as well. Acadia received nearly $1 million in federal funding to scale up its climate-smart restoration work in Great Meadow, Bass Harbor Marsh, and Acadia’s Summits. We celebrated 50 years of the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps program, 30 years of the Schoodic Education Adventure program, and increased the number of grants to help bring urban and diverse youth to the park.

You can read about these accomplishments and more in our 2023 Impact Report.

We could not do this work without you. That’s truly the power of “friends.”

Bill Eacho
Chair of the Board of Directors

“Every summer when I was growing up, I would look forward to the weeks I would spend visiting my Grandpa in Acadia. All my experiences on the mountains, in the woods, and in the water, inspired me to pursue an environmental science career. The impact of both my Grandpa and Acadia National Park helped make me the person I am today, and I’m proud to donate to Friends of Acadia every year on his birthday."

Mindy Gosselin
Friends of Acadia Trailblazer Member/Donor

Our Impact

Friends of Acadia works with Acadia National Park to identify places and projects where our effective mix of private philanthropy, volunteerism, innovative leadership, and strong partnerships most benefit the park’s critical needs.


Protecting Acadia’s Natural Resources and Preparing for Climate Change

The Plot Thickens

Climate-Smart Restoration Scales Up in 2023

You can learn a lot from a plot.

Like how summit vegetation will naturally propagate in degraded areas if you provide the soil and an effective way to keep it there. Or how planting native shrubs might provide just enough competition to keep invasive seedlings at bay.

Scientists in Acadia have gleaned a good deal from study plots over the last few years.

On the summit of Cadillac Mountain, where heavy foot traffic and the changing climate have diminished vegetation, researchers experimented with soil blends and seedlings, testing which methods were the most effective. Now those learnings are being extended to Sargent and Penobscot Mountains.

Closer to sea level, dedicated efforts to suppress invasive plants in Great Meadow and Bass Harbor Marsh are being amplified, too. Study plots implemented in the spring 2023 at ecologically diverse locations are being monitored to see how well native shrubs inhibit the resurgence of invasive plants like glossy buckthorn.

The expansion of work in 2023 is a testament to ongoing collaborative science and partnership between Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia, and the Schoodic Institute over the last decade.

That initial work by Acadia and its partners enabled the park to take advantage of federal funding opportunities. Acadia received $1 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for projects at Great Meadow and Bass Harbor Marsh.

Read more about how Acadia is leading the way in climate-smart restoration.

Wild Acadia


Friends of Acadia Member Support Helped: 

  • Engage over 200 volunteers who carried 3,750 pounds of soil to the summits of Sargent and Penobscot Mountain to initiate restoration experiments in 29 plots across the mountain summits. Learn more here.
  • Support the work of the National Park Service to advance co-stewardship of Acadia with the Wabanaki tribes in Maine. Learn more here.
  • Complete in-depth modeling of water flow through the Great Meadow, helping the National Park Service finish the design of the box culvert, nature-like weir, and stream channel improvements where Cromwell Brook flows under the Park Loop Road. The modeling served as the basis for predicting how these infrastructure improvements will temper flooding and drought periods for the Great Meadow as the existing, undersized culvert is replaced.
  • Support the park’s Invasive Plant Management Team, which surveyed 610 acres of the park for invasive plant species and treated 1.44 infested acres.
  • Maintain the long-term stream flow gauge at Otter Creek, an important reference for scientists to use in predicting stream flows throughout Acadia.
  • Support 52 volunteers who contributed 1,848 hours to maintaining and interpreting the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

“Because of our work over the last decade in partnership with Friends of Acadia and the Schoodic Institute, we’ve been able to leverage federal funding to expand the work. We’re continuing to learn, but we are scaling up, restoring more, and learning faster.”

Abe Miller-Rushing
Science Coordinator at Acadia National Park


Inspiring the Next Generation of Stewards

30 Years at SEA

Increased Support for Greater Reach 

During the Schoodic Education Adventure (SEA) program, middle-school students investigate marine life in tidepools, plot data-collection sites, and learn about Acadia’s geologic history. The immersive, three-day field trip on Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula gives students a deeper understanding of the natural environment and their role in it.

Developing tomorrow’s stewards is one of Friends of Acadia’s core strategic priorities, and the SEA program is a powerful approach accomplished in partnership with the park and Schoodic Institute.

Friends of Acadia has helped fund the SEA program, with support from L.L. Bean, since 2006. In 2023, we were able to increase this support to fund a year-round teaching assistant and five seasonal teaching assistants for spring and fall, when the SEA program is in session.

During the summer, the full-time teaching assistant helped with preparations for the SEA program, virtual programs, worked with multiple teacher workshops, at-risk youth groups from urban areas, and the program’s summer school pilot with local schools. In 2023, SEA served 710 students, 41 teachers and 11 chaperones from 28 schools in seven Maine counties and three other states.

Tomorrow’s Stewards


FOA Member Support Helped:

  • Support National Park Service education rangers as they conducted 353 virtual programs about Acadia, reaching 22,556 students in classrooms across the country.
  • Continue upgrades to the park’s fleet of iPads used in outdoor educational programming and data collection.
  • Organize exploration of the park for 97 family teams participating in Acadia Quest.
  • Support six Acadia Teacher Fellows who came to Acadia to learn and share outdoor teaching techniques and lesson plans tied to national parks, as well as 10 local teachers who participated in a training collaboratory designated for schools near Acadia.
  • Fund 10 outdoor classrooms for schools in Maine and in home states for the Acadia Teacher Fellows.
  • Fund park experiences for 10 urban and diverse youth groups who came to Acadia from cities across the country.

"I've been going to Acadia with my family since I was young. I was really glad when I was an adult and joined Friends of Acadia because I had real, 'adult' money. This is what I tend to do with my adult money!"

Dresden Linde Soules Peters
Friends of Acadia Member, Donor, & Volunteer


Enhancing the Visitor Experience While Protecting Our Resources

Construction of the Acadia Gateway Center is Underway!

It’s Partnerships That Make This Bus Go.
– Superintendent Kevin Schneider

Decades of planning and persistence are coming to fruition as construction is now underway at the long-anticipated Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton.

Slated for completion in May 2025, the Acadia Gateway Center will be a hub for visitors to plan their trips and board the Island Explorer bus, easing traffic in the park and on Mount Desert Island and providing an improved visitor experience.

The center will also incorporate several sustainability features, including a geothermal heating and cooling system, a rooftop solar panel array, and electric vehicle charging stations.

The project started in 2004 when Friends of Acadia purchased an option on the land that became the home of Downeast Transportation and the Island Explorer. Friends of Acadia continued as a partner throughout planning efforts and is funding part of the Acadia Gateway Center construction, as well as solar panels on the new building.

In addition to private support from Friends of Acadia and public support from MaineDOT, the National Park Service, the Federal Transit Administration, and Efficiency Maine are also providing funding.

“This is the culmination of the vision, ideas, passion, and energy of so many people,” said Eric Stiles, Friends of Acadia President and CEO. Thank you to all donors who helped make this exciting project possible.”

Acadia Experience


FOA Member Support Helped: 

  • Fund the Island Explorer bus service, which carried 451,032 passengers and reduced smog-causing pollutants by approximately 12.3 tons and greenhouse gases by an estimated 1,578 tons.
  • Enable the Summit Stewards to contact 30,040 visitors to Acadia and engage 9,424 visitors with messages about how to minimize recreational impact by practicing Leave No Trace.
  • Destroy 729 misleading rock stacks on Acadia’s trails and repair 1,158 cairns that guide hikers safely along the trails.
  • Employ two seasonal Recreation Technicians who conducted first-hand research on why visitors chose not to use the Island Explorer and who supported university research projects on night skies, visitor mobility, natural sounds, and lighting preferences.
  • Purchase five new electronic counters to monitor types and amounts of visitors’ use on the carriage roads in Acadia.

“Even with the incredible diversity of visitors [who come to the Wild Gardens] we’re part of the same club—people really interested in plants and the natural environment. And we see our visitors extremely engaged, from the young to the old. For me, meeting people from all over the country—really all over the world—is fun."

Alan Rosenquist
Wild Gardens of Acadia Volunteer


Preserving and Protecting Acadia’s Most Beloved Cultural Resources

Rebuilding the Maple Spring Trail

Finding Balance Between Historic Preservation and a Changing Climate

For nearly two years, the Maple Spring Trail in Acadia was closed due to extensive damage caused by flooding from a heavy rainstorm in June 2021. The water tore up stone steps and paving, bulldozed retaining walls, and swept away soil.

Last summer, Acadia’s trail crew got to work putting the Maple Spring Trail back together. Navigating exactly how to accomplish that feat was the work of an interdisciplinary team of park staff. Their approach used the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) Framework, which asks resource managers to assess a range of possible options: resisting change with concerted intervention, accepting change and allowing “nature to take its course,” or directing change with management that works in tandem with predicted environmental changes.

Landing on a rehabilitation approach that worked well for the entire quarter-mile section proved understandably challenging. But as the trail crew focused on specific trail features, solutions became more obvious.

Read more about Rebuilding the Maple Spring Trail.

Related Stories
What Next For Maple Spring Trail? A Climate-Scenario Planning Workshop (March 2022)
The Story Behind the Storm (Nov. 2021)

Learn more about Friends of Acadia’s support for Acadia’s trails and carriage roads.

Trails and Carriage Roads


FOA Member Support Helped: 

  • Employ the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, high-school-aged students who worked with park staff to restore vegetation, rehabilitate trails, collect stream data, monitor trail use, replace signage, maintain cairns, and clear carriage road ditches.
  • Purchase a van for use by the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps.
  • Maintain the ditches and restore the stream at the Seven Sisters area of the carriage roads, which were harmed by significant storm events.
  • Rehabilitate or re-route sections of the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, Beech Mountain Loop, Jordan Pond House Trail, Great Meadow Loop, and Amphitheater Trail.
  • Organize 280 volunteers who contributed 980 hours of volunteer time raking leaves from 8.3 miles of carriage road ditches to prevent erosion of the crushed stone roadbeds.
  • Purchase a boat that will be used by rangers to monitor conservation easements on offshore islands and work on remote trails, such as those on Baker Island and Isle au Haut.

“Friends of Acadia stepped up to purchase a new, safer, and more functional boat for the park in 2023, and it will be a game changer in terms of how we steward our resources and protect visitors. This is the first time we have ever had the exact vessel we need to reach our coastlines and outer islands safely and effectively, and it will serve the park for decades to come. Thank you! We felt it appropriate to name the boat Friendship.”

Brandon Bies
Deputy Superintendent, Acadia National Park


Making a difference for Acadia through effective partnerships and actions

Advocating for Acadia Takes Many Forms

What do salmon farms, park housing, wind energy, and outdoor schools have in common? Not much on face value, but they all intersected with Friends of Acadia’s advocacy work in 2023.

Friends of Acadia recognizes the importance of advancing the interests of the park and its visitors before decisionmakers, and we fight threats to park, such as oversized finfish farms or improperly sited cell towers.

In 2023, we worked steadily with partners to highlight Acadia’s operating and capital funding needs, address outdated finfish farming practices in state waters, revise the National Park Service seasonal housing policies, encourage the Maine legislature to provide funding to make outdoor education equitable for all Maine students, and provide viewshed data to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as they considered opening wind farm lease areas in the Gulf of Maine.

Advocacy is one of our key operating principles, and our work spans the broad spectrum of issues facing the park.



FOA Member Support Helped: 

  • Brief the Maine Congressional delegation about funding needs and opportunities tied to Acadia.
  • Encourage the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to site wind energy lease areas in the Gulf of Maine in locations with minimal or no impact to the views from Acadia’s mountains and trails.
  • Change the National Park Service’s housing policies to consider competition for seasonal housing in gateway communities during peak visitation months, not on an annual rental basis.
  • Suggest revisions to the Department of the Interior’s contingency guidance for government shutdowns in national parks to better protect Acadia from unmanaged visitation in high season.
  • Enable Friends of Acadia to work with partners to establish new stocking density standards in Maine law for ocean-based finfish farms.


Helping to make Acadia accessible to all


Expanding Connection to Acadia National Park—at School and in the Park

New visitors are excited to explore the park when the space feels accepting and inclusive.

In our journey to welcome visitors of all backgrounds to Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia supported the park in hosting 10 Urban and Diverse Youth groups in 2023—a 400% increase from when the program launched in 2017 with two groups. These grants enable communities to engage in meaningful experiences and fun recreation in Acadia.

Friends of Acadia additionally issued a record 10 Outdoor Classroom Grants to Maine schools in 2023, helping educators build outdoor learning spaces on their school campuses. Outdoor learning spaces get students connected to the outdoors and to Acadia without the cost of transportation as a possible barrier.


Making Progress to Address Acadia’s Seasonal Workforce Housing Challenge

Rachel Hartman feels lucky that she was able to secure housing in one of the coveted spots in park housing so she could work as a seasonal law enforcement ranger for Acadia during the 2023 season.

Acadia seeks to hire about 175 seasonal employees, but in 2023 it was only able to hire 115—leaving a third of the positions unfilled! It’s becoming increasingly difficult to fill seasonal jobs due to the workforce housing crisis on MDI and its surrounding communities.

That’s why Friends of Acadia has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to address this issue. And in 2023, we made real progress.

In March, Friends of Acadia purchased the Kingsleigh Inn — formerly a Bed and Breakfast in Southwest Harbor—adding 10 beds. We also helped renovate existing park housing to add three more units and rented seven RV pads. These efforts provide housing for an additional 20 employees.

But we didn’t stop there.

Friends of Acadia purchased a 4-acre parcel of land on Jordan Pond Road in Seal Harbor and is currently constructing homes for eight employees in two units. This property is within the park’s administrative boundary and, when completed in the spring of 2025, will be transferred to the park.

Friends of Acadia’s early support and investments also helped Acadia National Park secure funding for the first phase of design of housing at its Harden Farms location. The NPS is leading project design and development, proposing up to 56 new bedrooms.

Learn more about Friends of Acadia’s efforts to help solve the workforce housing crisis here..

“Living on MDI and accessing Acadia for a planned hike/walk/ski/ bike/swim/skate, or a last-minute adventure, is a luxury that eclipses previous places I’ve lived. As a Friends of Acadia board member, I’m able to give back to Acadia and this heightens my appreciation. Helping Friends of Acadia address how to alleviate the severe housing shortage for seasonal employees is one way I can give back.”

Dave Edson
Friends of Acadia Board of Directors + Chair of the Seasonal Workforce Housing Committee

Power of


Acadia National Park is protected and enriched by the members, donors, and volunteers of Friends of Acadia. THANK YOU for all you give to this place we love so much.

Terramor Outdoors Resort is a Creative and Committed Donor and Partner

Terramor Outdoor Resort in Bar Harbor takes its social responsibility seriously. Terramor, a Friends of Acadia business member and proceeds donor, has donated in-kind gifts to the Friends of Acadia Annual Benefit, volunteered at our community events, provided a beautiful venue for donor and volunteer events, and hosted more than 40 fireside conversations at Pints for a Purpose—the Friends of Acadia Thursday night speaker series launched in 2022 where $1 for each pint of beer sold is donated to Friends of Acadia.

In 2023, Terramor announced that $1 from every direct online booking at the resort would come to Friends of Acadia! This was just the latest in a series of generous and creative ways that Terramor Outdoor Resort supports Friends of Acadia’s mission to preserve and protect Acadia National Park. Thank you Terramor for being a charitable, creative, and outstanding conservation partner!


Growing the Ranks of Volunteer Crew Leaders 

Volunteer Crew Leaders (VCLs) are the backbone of the Drop-In Trails and Carriage Roads Stewardship Volunteer Program, a collaboration between Acadia National Park and Friends of Acadia.

From driving crews to work sites and training new volunteers on how to use a tool for the job at hand, to keeping up hydration and team morale, they do it all! VCLs are people who have volunteered more than 10 times and decided to go the extra mile and get trained to be a volunteer leader. In 2023, six new VCLs joined the ranks.

One of those new VCLs is Rachel Faith, who grew up enjoying Acadia with family and friends. As a regular volunteer at the Drop-in Stewardship Volunteer Program in 2022, she opted to get trained as crew leader in 2023. “I love the opportunity to explore the park while helping to maintain it,” she said. “I was able to leave the trails and paths definitively better than I found them.”

“Terramor is honored to support Friends of Acadia in their mission to preserve, promote, and protect Acadia National Park. Terramor, which means ‘love of land’, is rooted on MDI and recognizes the long-term commitment needed to be good stewards and educators of our beautiful home. Partnering with an amazing organization like FOA allows us to create awareness and build lifelong appreciation from our guests for Acadia National Park.”

Josh Brillhart
General Manager, Terramor Outdoor Resort

By the numbers

dedicated volunteer hours
  • $1.9 million in 2023
  • /
  • $39.2 million since 1986
Grants to the Park & Communities

“I love the opportunity to explore the park while helping to maintain it. I was able to leave the trails and paths definitively better than I found them...I also love that some of the work we do in the park helps make it more physically accessible to a broader range of people.”

Rachel Faith
Stewardship Volunteer and new Volunteer Crew Leader

Financial Statements

Total Program Expenses
Total Operating Expenses
Composition of Net Assets

2023 Financial Overview

Unrestricted contributions, grants, and events $7,761,169
Donor-restricted funds raised in prior years used for intended purposes $3,767,074
Total $11,528,243
Operating Expenses
Education & Outreach $637,805
Programs - General $4,482,421
Total Program Expenses $5,120,226
Supporting Services
Development $1,417,005
Management & General $583,837
Total Supporting Services $2,000,842
Total Operating Expenses $7,121,068
Composition of Net Assets
Unrestricted (available for general support) $16,613,446
Restricted for a Specific Purpose $43,511,438
Permanently Restricted Endowments $32,336,654
Total Net Assets $92,461,538

*Unaudited results

"Each year as I read the Impact Report, I am humbled by Friends of Acadia's unwavering support for Acadia National Park. Partnerships forge innovation, and Friends of Acadia's accomplishments are proof of that. We are so grateful to Friends of Acadia for making so many things possible for the park, our visitors, and our community!"

Kevin Schneider
Superintendent of Acadia National Park

Thank You

All of Friends of Acadia’s accomplishments start with the dedication of members and donors like you. Thanks for all you helped accomplish for our beloved Acadia in 2023!