Acadia Confronts a Rising Tide – via Sierra

“After a pair of January storms ravaged the coastline, rangers are caught between preparing for the annual crush of summer tourists and responding to the climate crisis.”

Full story from Sierra: Acadia National Park Confronts a Rising Tide

A story recently published in Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, spotlighted the impact of severe winter storms in Acadia National Park and how park managers are navigating their response to the damage amid the impending return of summer tourists and a changing climate.

“When I visited in April, officials at Acadia were still in the early stages of recovery. The facilities crew had its hands full with repairing 1,000 feet of the Ocean Path, a vital trail in Acadia that connects two popular destinations: the island’s only sandy beach and Thunder Hole, where the dramatic crash of waves into a granite chasm draws some of the park’s largest crowds. Fixing the Ocean Path was just one line item in the tens of millions of dollars in damage sustained by Acadia.”

The story goes on to note the estimated cost of every repair the park will need already dwarfs its annual budget of around $10 million, and the full assessment is not yet completed.

“As park ranger Amanda Pollock drove me around Acadia’s Park Loop Road, she told me that the Park Service’s recovery plans are complicated by its recognition that while the sort of storms that had caused so much havoc this year might have once been labeled an aberration, they are now better understood as a portent of what’s to come. “As the climate changes and as we get warmer temperatures and the sea level rises, science is showing that we’re getting more intense storms more regularly,” Pollock said. “We’re seeing really high winds, we’re seeing an increased storm surge, we’re seeing really big waves.”

The park’s approach, the story notes, is one that more broadly considers how to effectively conserve resources in a rapidly changing world:

“Adopted in 2020, the Park Service’s resist-accept-direct framework (known as RAD) lays out three broad categories of potential responses to climate change. While simply rebuilding damaged park facilities might qualify as an effort to ‘resist’ climate change, those proposals must be weighed against other opportunities to either ‘accept’ a shifting coastline or ‘direct’ an anticipated change, such as by restoring a wetland that naturally absorbs storm water to prevent it from damaging an adjacent roadway.”

Friends of Acadia is a long-standing partner in helping the park protect natural resources in the face of a rapidly changing environment. Learn more here.

Read the full story from Sierra: Acadia National Park Confronts a Rising Tide

More info:
Learn more about the January storms in Acadia: Taken by Storm

Learn more about the Resist-Accept-Direct framework