The Great Meadow is a 100-acre wetland in the heart of the Cromwell Brook watershed near downtown Bar Harbor. Visitors to the Meadow enjoy outstanding views of Kebo, Dorr, and Champlain Mountains, accessible paths with excellent birding opportunities, and the chance to experience the landscape and history of some of the original tracts involved in the founding of Acadia National Park.
A canoe floats on the main channel in Great Meadow during a census survey aimed at understanding the population dynamics of beaver in the Cromwell Brook and Otter Creek watersheds in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Will Greene/Friends of Acadia)
Located adjacent to the Park Loop Road and the Sieur de Monts Spring area, the Great Meadow Wetland is part of a larger network of wetlands, streams, and ponds in the Cromwell Brook watershed, including the Tarn. Nestled at the base of Dorr Mountain, Park founder, George B. Dorr, focused much of his attention on this area and greatly modified it, adding greenhouses, trails and roads. This, coupled with prior modifications, greatly altered the flow of water through the wetland, impairing its ability to act as a wetland and allowing non-native species to thrive instead of freshwater plants.
Together with partners-in-science like Friends of Acadia, Acadia is working to restore natural water flow into the wetlands and remove invasive plants. The National Park Service is planning to replace the culvert at the Meadow’s outlet with a bridge designed to improve passage for aquatic organisms and to provide the flow capacity needed for larger storm events anticipated because of climate change.
Responding to Climate Change in the Great Meadow Wetland
As one of the park’s partners, Friends of Acadia is enhancing the work at the Great Meadow by investing in the restoration of the natural stream channel above and below the new bridge. The legacy ditches in the Meadow will be plugged to retain water during high precipitation events, and the abandoned roadbed will be removed to enable natural flow across the wetland.
These improvements will move the Great Meadow closer to the natural hydrology of a wetland complex, help mitigate floods, improve water quality, and facilitate greater biodiversity.
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.
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.