Our Work Has Benefited Greatly From People Who Are Finding Creative Ways To Give Back To The Park They Love
May 11th, 2021
May 11th, 2021
BY DAVID MACDONALD
While most Friends of Acadia members provide generous support for our conservation mission through direct financial donations, our work has benefited greatly from people who are finding other, creative ways to give back to the park they love.
Heidi Hershberger’s deep commitment to Acadia was evident through the years she served as a stewardship volunteer, helping to maintain Acadia’s trails and carriage roads. When it became clear to her that her declining health would not allow her to realize her dreams of building a home on a small tract of undeveloped land she had purchased in Bar Harbor, she began looking for ways to donate that property to benefit the park.
Heidi had originally hoped to donate the acreage directly to the National Park Service , but when she learned that it was not included within the park’s congressionally approved boundary, she explored other options.
Heidi ended up donating the land to Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) in 2018, with the understanding that the Trust would sell the land and put the proceeds to work helping the park acquire lands that were approved for addition to the park boundary.
After reviewing the property to make sure that it was appropriate for residential development without harming the conservation values of Acadia, MCHT sold the property in January of 2020. In order to fulfill Heidi’s wishes that the proceeds be used specifically for additions to Acadia, the Trust granted the proceeds to Friends of Acadia, since we maintain an existing fund for just that purpose.
This far-sighted gift by Heidi, and the ensuing transactional expertise and generous re-grant by MCHT, builds upon a long- standing partnership between Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Friends of Acadia that has helped Acadia add dozens of parcels to its boundary over the last 20 years.
In a fitting final piece to the story, the buyers of the parcel, Adrienne and Chad Jones, are also Friends of Acadia members, and the land purchase fulfills a long-held dream to someday move to Mount Desert Island (MDI) in order to live closer to their favorite national park.
Somesville residents Pat and Bob Foster are also putting their properties to use to benefit Friends of Acadia’s mission, through rentals to Friends of Acadia seasonal employees. Like so many MDI area organizations and businesses, Friends of Acadia relies on seasonal employees to conduct important work in the park during the busy summer and fall seasons.
The ability for these seasonals to find housing has become increasingly challenging in recent years as more units that were rented by the month or seasonally in the past have been converted to short-term weekly rentals on MDI. The Fosters decided to buck that trend and switch from weekly rentals to entering into multi-month, affordably priced agreements with Friends of Acadia seasonal employees.
“We have so enjoyed getting to know and do business with these impressive young men and women, and we are glad to be able to offer them a home base on MDI as they are starting their careers,” said Pat. “The time was right for us to ease off the pace and step back from the weekly schedule and seeing the rentals help young people and the park is very worthwhile for us.”
Friends of Acadia is interested in building upon this model and working with other renters or landlords who would like to assist our mission by helping us to provide housing for Friends of Acadia or Acadia National Park seasonal workers. Feel free to reach out to Friends of Acadia if you have questions or suggestions.
DAVID MACDONALD is Friends of Acadia’s President and CEO