Protecting Acadia’s Lands
& Natural Resources

With its wealth of habitats and protected fields, forests, wetlands, and waters, Acadia National Park is an unparalleled natural laboratory. Long-term and sustainable protection of Acadia’s natural resources requires an array of tools—research, public outreach and education, restoration work, and monitoring of air and water quality, forest health, and visitation statistics.

Friends of Acadia Wild Acadia Project Coordinator Brian Henkel ties a guide line to a tree to measure the elevation of Stanley Brook in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

What is Wild Acadia?

Wild Acadia is a partnership-based, interdisciplinary, and updated approach to managing Acadia’s natural and cultural resources. Rather than managing to a past state, this approach seeks to understand the stresses to Acadia’s resources, the resulting changes from those stressors, and new ways to manage park ecosystems so that they are better equipped to handle changing environmental conditions.

Climate change has shifted Acadia’s weather patterns and temperatures, creating pressures from invasive insects and plants, seasonal drought, and significant storm events. Rising visitation may also create pressure on Acadia’s resources as visitors flock to the park’s moderate temperatures.

Friends of Acadia is investing in a series of Wild Acadia initiatives to help park ecosystems be resilient to the changes happening within and around them. It is no longer enough for park managers to replace infrastructure exactly as it was before or to repair environmental damage without thinking about the environmental conditions anticipated in the park in 40 years.

Responding to Climate Change

Changes to the Park

Ecosystem Resiliency & R.A.D.

Acadia’s natural resources will face short-term stressors, such as ice storms, and longer-term stressors, such as air pollution or rising temperatures. Wild Acadia is a suite of initiatives designed to help park ecosystems become more resilient to these stressors and thereby have the best chance to survive intact.

The park and its partners are currently exploring a new approach framework for managing park ecosystems: Resist-Accept-Direct framework, or R.A.D. for short.

R.A.D. guides us to choose when and where to:
Resist environmental change— preserve habitats at all costs as they currently exist;
Accept environment change— allow species to vanish as the environment changes rapidly; or
Direct it— adapt habitats and species through anticipated radical change

Our Wild Acadia Projects

Great Meadow Wetland

While the Great Meadow is an iconic destination, the combination of an undersized culvert at the outlet, legacy ditches in the Meadow, and an abandoned road has shifted the hydrology and species composition from a healthy wetland complex to a less healthy, low species diversity wetland.

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Bass Harbor Marsh

Invasive plants like glossy buckthorn will thrive and outcompete native shrubs and plants if unmanaged at locations like Bass Harbor Marsh, Acadia's largest salt marsh.

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Summit Restoration

Friends of Acadia is supporting the park’s work to keep the sub-alpine vegetation of Acadia’s summits healthy, diverse, and adaptable.

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Research and Resiliency in Acadia

Learn how climate-smart restoration is scaling up Acadia in this story from the summer '23 issue of Acadia magazine.

Read more

Our Impact

Learn more about Friends of Acadia's work in our 2022 Impact Report.

Wild Acadia Partners

Working together with Acadia’s primary partners, Schoodic Institute and Friends of Acadia, Acadia National Park is currently leading the way in partnership-based, interdisciplinary, and updated approaches to keeping Acadia resilient and adaptive in the face of climate change. Current research projects at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Great Meadow Wetland, and Bass Harbor Marsh are testing and evaluating new management approaches. This cutting-edge research is already informing how other parks and protected areas around the world are managed in the face of environmental change.

Through Wild Acadia initiatives, Friends of Acadia and partners will help park resources survive and adapt to changing conditions so that future generations may enjoy them as we do.

Additional Resources