Many people of all ages have grown to love Acadia National Park. In fact, more than two million people visit Acadia each year. However, two million sets of feet, the vehicles that bring visitors, and individual acts of litter and wear and tear can leave a significant impact on this very small and fragile national park. Following are some ideas to help minimize those impacts. It's up to each and every one of us to leave the park in better condition than when we arrived so future visitors can enjoy a beautiful Acadia National Park, just as we do today.
- Ride the bus!
Island Explorer shuttles burn clean propane fuel to reduce nitrous oxide, an ozone-producing pollutant. Not only do the shuttles help clear the air, but also relieve traffic congestion. How much nicer it is to see trees, rocks, and views in the park, rather than bumper-to-bumper rubber, steel, glass, and a haze of exhaust. You benefit by traveling to destinations across Mount Desert Island and through the park without the frustration of searching for parking spots or dealing with traffic. You won't be turned away from trailheads with full parking lots! And guess what? The ride is free. Shuttle service runs from late June to early October.
- Stay on trails.
Hiking in the center of the path avoids trail widening and prevents trampling of plants, flowers, and tree roots, which can lead to erosion. Hike and rest on durable surfaces whenever possible. Remember, plants grow by the inch and die by the foot!
- Stay attached to your dog.
Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost, injured by porcupines, or infected with rabies. Keeping dogs leashed is courteous to other visitors and protects wildlife. Unleashed dogs sometimes harass, injure, and kill wildlife whose home this is. Learn where you can and can't take your pet.
- Keep wildlife wild.
Wild animals fed by people often starve in winter, are hit by cars, or become dangerous pests. Do not feed wild animals or birds.
- Leave what you find.
Removing natural and historic objects such as beach cobbles, flowers, starfish, and antlers degrades the park and threatens species survival. More than two million people visit this small island every year. Imagine if every visitor took something from the park. What would be left? Collecting is prohibited.
- Pack it in. Pack it out.
Carry out anything you have carried into the park. Better yet, carry out any other litter you find. Properly dispose of human waste in a cathole six inches deep and at least 100 feet from trails and water. Even better, make use of the many restrooms available in the park before you hit the trail.
- Learn more about Acadia.
Join a ranger-led walk, hike, cruise, or evening program. Topics cover the natural and cultural history of the park. The more you know about and understand the unique qualities of your national park, the more determined you may become to help this "crown jewel" survive through the new millennium.
Receptacles around the park offer the opportunity to discard your rubbish and recycle plastics and glass at the same time. It's easy! Just carefully read the labels on the lids of receptacles to determine which are for rubbish and which are for recyclables.
- Shhh... Respect natural silence.
Stop and listen. An astounding world of sound exists in national parks, whether it's birdsong, a lake lapping on shore, or a breeze in the trees.
- Leave the rocks for the next glacier.
Following painted blazes and stone markers (cairns) on hiking trails without adding to them is important. Moving rocks can destroy the plants around them, building extra cairns can mislead other hikers and get them lost, and rock sculptures ruin the natural scene created by glaciers long ago. It's just another kind of graffiti, and who wants to travel hundreds of miles to see graffiti in their national park?
A stint as a volunteer can range from a brief few hours one morning, to an entire season. Volunteers help maintain trails and carriage roads and more!
- Drink clean water.
Acadia is a place of water. Lakes fill valleys carved by glaciers, streams rush through forests, and the sea pounds the shore. Not only is drinking water derived from freshwater sources, but also they are home to fish, wildlife, and other aquatic species. They provide scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. But when someone wades or swims in a public water supply, they are swimming in your drinking water! Public water supplies are posted, and wading and swimming are prohibited. Try a dip at Echo Lake where there is a great sandy beach and lifeguards on duty. When near a lake or pond, stay on trails and tread lightly to prevent erosion. Likewise, tread lightly along the ocean shoreline in the intertidal zone where thousands of creatures may come underfoot. When observing tidepool creatures, return them to where you found them to help ensure their survival.
- Conserve at home.
Acadia National Park is not isolated from the rest of the world. Air pollution, for instance, is a regional problem. The downeast currents may carry pollution produced by power plants, manufacturers, traffic, etc., from urban areas along the northeast coast. With a change of winds, pollution may find its way to Acadia from the Midwest. Air pollution may haze Acadia's scenic views, and it leads to ozone alerts, which pose health hazards to children, those with respiratory problems, and the elderly. There is much that can be done at home to help Acadia:
- Use public transportation
- Turn off the lights when you don't need them
- Use energy-efficient bulbs
- Plant a tree
- Minimize use of household chemicals
- Don't waste water.
- Many more!
The steps you take can be minimal, but may have significant and positive impacts for your immediate area, as well as your more distant national parks.