NPS and SERC Institute employees celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated and expanded SERC campus in Winter Harbor, Maine on August 24, 2011.
Acadia National Park, the Northeast Region, and the Denver Service Center recently completed several significant projects together, greatly reducing the maintenance backlog at Acadia National Park and opening the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC).
The projects included the rehabilitation of all the paved routes and associated drainage structures within the park, the repair of Eagle Lake Bridge, and the completion of the majority of the facilities at SERC.
“Acadia NP serves nearly 2.5 million visitors annually from all over the world. Improving park roads and facilities helps the National Park Service to better serve these visitors and enhance their experience,” said Acadia NP Superintendent Sheridan Steele.
The NPS has invested nearly $18 million in Congressional appropriations and park user fees over the past nine years to transform the former Naval Security Group Activity base to a state-of-the-art campus for SERC and support the local economy. The total investment includes $9.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which played a significant role in advancing the conversion of the navy base facilities. The facilities include classrooms, laboratories, lodging, dining rooms, and a 125-seat auditorium on a newly landscaped, pedestrian-friendly campus.
“The Recovery Act allowed the NPS to compact about 10-15 years of work into 18 months. The Schoodic Education and Research Center will enable the NPS and our many partners to develop a wide range of new programs and activities related to science and education in the national parks. SERC will also help us place more emphasis on connecting youth with nature and the park,” said Steele.
In 2002, the NPS acquired the 100-acre navy base and began converting the facilities from a military use to educational and research use in cooperation with the Maine Congressional delegation, U.S. Department of Defense, and State of Maine. In 2004, the NPS created a nonprofit organization, the SERC Institute, to help develop and manage the facilities, and support the mission of SERC, which is to guide present and future generations to greater understanding and respect for nature by providing research and learning opportunities through its outstanding park setting, unique coastal Maine facilities, and innovative partnership programs.
The NPS and SERC Institute are working together to create a world-class research and learning institution at Acadia NP dedicated to supporting scientific research in the park, providing professional development for teachers, and educating students to become a new generation of stewards who will help conserve our natural and cultural treasures.
Additional upcoming projects at Acadia NP include the construction of bus stops at the most congested areas along the Island Explorer bus route and the rehabilitation of the Rockefeller Building, a historic structure at SERC that will be used for offices and lodging.