The Consolidated Appropriations Act and Acadia National Park
March 24th, 2023
March 24th, 2023
BY STEPHANIE CLEMENT
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 brought about several good things for Acadia and the National Park Service. Not only did the bill avoid a December government shutdown, but it also increased appropriations for the operations of the National Park Service by approximately $156 million—that’s a 5.7 percent increase to the enacted operational budget of FY 2022.
While it is not clear how this funding will be distributed among national parks, it will start to address some of the staffing shortfalls across the parks. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Friends of Acadia and the Schoodic Institute, the bill did not contain the $1 million increase in operating funds for Acadia’s research and learning center at Schoodic. Friends of Acadia will continue to lobby in favor of this in future appropriations bills.
The omnibus appropriations bill also incorporated the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act of 2022, a bill championed by U.S. Senator Susan Collins to establish pilot programs using native plants in geographically diverse units of the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Friends of Acadia supported this bill, recognizing the value of native plants and invasive plant removal in helping Acadia’s natural resources be resilient to the effects of climate change.
The omnibus appropriations bill will also help Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities address the need for workforce housing. In 1986, when Congress passed Acadia’s boundary legislation, a 55-acre parcel owned by the National Park Service in Town Hill was designated to be transferred to the Town of Bar Harbor for development of a solid waste transfer facility.
U.S. Senator Angus King sponsored legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Collins and incorporated into the omnibus bill, to change that designation to affordable workforce housing benefiting the towns on Mount Desert Island. The language also allowed the National Park Service to retain 15 acres for housing and administrative facilities.
Friends of Acadia is grateful to the Maine congressional delegation for their continued support of Acadia National Park and for passage of this important legislation.
STEPHANIE CLEMENT is Friends of Acadia’s Vice President of Conservation.