ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING
Acadia National Park Headquarters
OPENING REMARKSThe Commission Chair called the meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, being held on Monday, June 1st, 2015, to order. Thank you, and welcome, to everyone for attending the meeting of the Advisory Commission on this rainy day. It is warm inside and not a bad day for a meeting.
The newest member of the Advisory Commission is Ken Smith, representing Bar Harbor. This is not Ken’s first meeting so he doesn’t really need an introduction. Moreover, Ken is not new to the Advisory Commission. Beginning in 1986 he served for several years on the original Acadia National Park Advisory Commission. I want to mention that the status of Commission membership is still in flux. Ben Emery will be representing the Department of the Interior’s Public at Large as will Ken Cline. Ken Cline could not attend today as he is oversees. The governor has appointed three new members, one being Howie Motenko. We are glad that Howie is attending today’s meeting and, as soon as paperwork is completed in Washington , we will welcome Howie and Ben to this side of the table. Nominations of all nominees, whether representing the towns or governor’s office, have to be approved by the Department of the Interior before their appointments take effect and that takes time.
In the interim until all the paperwork is completed and final, we are still doing our jobs as best we can to advise the park and provide a platform for input from the towns and other representatives. Whether we vote on items or not, our input is advisory to the park and they take it into consideration, but are not bound by it. So we are an important source of advice to the park and our meetings are an important opportunity for the public to give input on any park related matter. Thank you for your patience until the membership is set.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTESA motion was made for the approval of the February 9th, 2015, minutes. You have all seen the minutes in electronic form. Are you sufficiently acquainted with them to pass them or make suggestions for changes now or would you like a hard copy of the minutes.
Paul Richardson stated he does not have the internet system or receive anything electronically. He needs to have all communication mailed to him. Steve agreed that all communications will be mailed to Paul in the future and asked if anyone else would prefer mail over electronic. Everyone agreed to electronic with the exception of Paul.
It was noted there was one correction on page 9, ‘Susie Homer is President of Southwest Harbor Chamber of Commerce NOT Southeast Harbor, as stated’. This correction will be made.
A motion to accept the minutes as corrected was seconded, and unanimously accepted. Thank you to Kathy Flanders for the minutes and, after querying Commissioners, they prefer to have the long, narrative minutes as a matter of record and for those who follow us should they wish to delve into our inner thoughts.
SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORTI would like to thank the Commission for your service. The transportation planning process you are going to hear more about in the next few minutes is a wonderful opportunity for you to get more involved because we really need public opinion, we need input, and a variety of opinions and points on the transportation issues that we are identifying and hoping to improve upon in the next number of years. As Acadia National Park enters its second century, improving the transportation situation in the park would be a great thing. So you are going to hear more about that in the next few minutes but I wanted to alert you to the fact that we really would like the Commission to think about ways they might be more involved with that process.
Staff Updates – Sheridan Steele, SuperintendentNew Employees (Introductions)
Sheridan Steele, Superintendent:
Mike Madell – Deputy Superintendent. Mike has been here for 3-4 months and is replacing Len Bobinchock. Mike is going to be a great deputy here at Acadia.
Becky Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management:
Gail Gladstone – Cultural Resource’s Specialist. Gail is a landscape architect and came
from the Midwest Region where she worked at Lewis and Clark National Trails.
Brian Hinkle – Brian is working under a grant from Friends of Acadia under the Wild
Acadia Initiative. Brian is an engineer and he is going to be the project manager for all
the science related to the Wild Acadia programs.
Keith Johnston, Chief of Facility Management
Billy Anderson – Full-time Electrician (not present). Billy comes from the Bucksport area, former employee at the mill. He started last month and will, hopefully, get a lot of work back on track at Acadia.
Stuart West, Chief Ranger
Michelle Bierman – Fee Manager. Many of you know Michelle from her work at Schoodic. She was there for many years in operations. Michelle replaced Ryan McKelvey, who went to Shenandoah National Park. The Assistant Fee relocated to New Mexico.
Tim Rand, Supervisory Ranger (not present)
Darren Belskis, Supervisory Ranger (not present)
Centennial Planning – Lynn Dominy, Chief of Interpretation and Jack Russell, Co-Chair, Centennial TaskforceLynn Dominy – National Park Centennial - 2016 will be celebrating two major Centennials, National Park Service Centennial and Acadia National Park Centennial. There has been a logo designed for the centennial. This is how the park service is branding the parks together. This is just for the centennial itself and does not replace the NPS arrowhead mark. The national partner of the National Park Service is the non-profit organization, National Park Foundation. The NPF has created a website for the Centennial based around the idea of Find Your Park. Find Your Park banners are being placed in every unit of the national park system. They are trying to reach out to people who are not aware of the national park system or have never experienced national parks to recognize that we exist. They are trying to encourage people to go out and discover what these places are and what is special about the heritage and the cultural and natural resources in these places. They are, also, targeting a lot of urban centers of the country which do not have sites close to them or people who use them much. So the national campaign will act as an outreach to people so they know the national park system does exist. The national is very different from what is happening at Acadia and Jack Russell will speak on the Acadia centennial. We do have an ANP logo for our centennial, which is starting to show up in the community. This logo was designed by a Maine artist as part of a competition. It is being used to brand what is happening here in our 100th year all across the year. We also have a website, www.acadiacentennial2016.org and, if you go to this website, you can see how everything is being organized in our community. The main difference is that we have reached out, as Acadia National Park and the Acadia Centennial Task Force, to the community. Instead of saying “Come Find Acadia”, because we know a lot of people have already found Acadia, we are reaching out and saying to all the communities, “Come and be a part of this celebration; come and be a part of celebrating why this place is so important; be a part of its future, understand its’ past, and be proud of your connections to this place”. It is a very different local and Maine based effort to reach out across the area to embrace and bring people to the whole region around Acadia National Park not just to the park itself. It is also important to know that some of our activities are going to be organized at the National level, i.e. National Park Week and National Junior Ranger Day are events you will see across the whole country that happen in April. Of course here, depending on the weather, we might not have the park open yet, or at least the road that leads to the top of Cadillac, depending on the snow. But we will have some events for National Park Week. The big events happening here will be on June 25th and August 27th. Jack will talk more on these events. These are the two events that are added new for the centennial year to highlight Acadia. In September and October, there are events that actually happen every year, but they are being highlighted as part of the centennial, and are happening as a result of community efforts and with our partners. They are the Acadia Night Sky Festival, Science Symposium at SERC with the Schoodic Institute, and the Take Pride in Acadia Day with Friends of Acadia. So there is a sequence of different events that will take place at Acadia but most of them are out in the communities. They are in libraries, museums, parks, gardens and businesses across Maine, not focused inside Acadia National Park. This is how we are organizing at the national level and tying in with the national level. We are proud to be a part of the national centennial because we are a national park. We are proud that, as a part of the national park system, we are helping people understand more about our mission, more about how we focus on conservation and look at the big issues that are facing us in the future but we are also proud to be Acadia National Park and be a part of the efforts that are going on at the national level.
(Steve Katona) A reminder this discussion follows from a discussion at the last meeting and a question from the public at the last meeting as to what this is about, why we are doing this and tell us more. So thank you for this.
Jack Russell – Acadia National Park Centennial
Jack is the co-chair with Cookie Horner on the Acadia National Park Task Force, which has been engaged in the planning of this year long community based world welcoming event. The 17 member Acadia Centennial Task Force has been on the job for more than two years. Why are we doing this and what are the fundamental purposes?
There are seven identified Acadia centennial objectives, which include:
1. Celebrate Co-Centennial with the NPS (Both were created in 1916, seven weeks apart)
2. Debate Conservation in the 21st Century (series of 12 lectures/community-wide debates)
3. Model Community Stewardship (Take Pride in Acadia)
4. Engage Youth and Enhance Education (FOA/ANP Programs; Schoodic Institute/SERC)
5. Extend Science for and from Acadia (Citizen Science)
6. Generate Conservation Advocacy (Responsibility for our National Parks)
7. Express Celebrating The Poetry of the Commons (Philanthropy, Community and Conservation Came Together to Create a Purpose for All)
I am speaking in support for all the Acadia Centennial Partners. They are the heart and soul of the Acadia Centennial. We are working for results that will matter. There are plenty of business people on our task force who are mindful they are investing without understanding what the returns will be and they’re going to withstand that test. Together they are doing something special. We had over 100 Acadia Centennial Partners at the Moore Center in Ellsworth this morning.
We are working for results that matter. Those fundamentals that we expect are,
I speak for Cookie and myself and, I believe, as well as for the other members of the task force, that we, the Acadia Centennial Task Force, realize it is not a simple thing to move a complex community to an enduring common commitment, but that is precisely the purpose of the Acadia Centennial.
(Steve Katona) Thank you to Jack, Lynne… and, also to Cookie and the Committee. Are there any questions from the Commission? I know Jack thinks more deeply about things than most people do. You both brought all those things together in the presentation very nicely. When boundary legislation was passed and the Commission was established, the towns were chosen as gateway towns and towns joined the park. Now with activities at Schoodic, as well as Isle au Haut which is not represented by the Commission for historical reasons, all of the towns have a greater investment in the park and its success and operations and the Commission has taken on increased meaning. Thank you, Jack and Lynne, for your comments.
(Ben Emory) The presentations were outstanding. I would like to see this information captured in a brochure for the whole next year. Lynne was so articulate in your words related to the communities. Lynne’s comments are really important and the message you put forward is really worth capturing and repeating. On the science focus, Acadia has an overwhelming amount of environmental history data to keep and, if we can come out of the centennial with actually having an environmental history library, it would be a great achievement. The final thing in the area of financial support for Acadia, another objective as the centennial goes forward could be to generate more public support for urging congress to provide financial support for the entire national park system-- and we can help here at Acadia with that.
Schoodic Woods - Sheridan Steele (w/map)There has been progress at Schoodic Woods. Schoodic Woods, LLC, a private non-profit operating under Lyme Timber, purchased that property in 2011. The south half is being built upon as part of the Schoodic Woods project. They have been working on a development plan, which is presently in construction. There are eight and one/half miles of new bike paths and four and one-half miles of new hiking trails connecting to existing trails. There is a 96 site campground with RV, tent, and walk-in campsites, and two group camp sites; a group picnic shelter; a day-use parking lot for 100 vehicles; campground office, and visitor information center; restrooms and the facilities that go with it. This was supposed to be completed by August 1 but that has been extended to September 1 due to the snow this past winter. The National Park Service has agreed to operate all of this by written agreement. In the summer of 2013, the owners gave a conservation easement on some of the south half which provided some affirmative rights according to Maine law which allows us to manage it as part of the park. It will be budget neutral. By that I mean there can be appropriations which provide for payment in lieu of taxes over the long term on the property through the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. As far as operating cost, we have completed a very detailed analysis on what it will cost to operate it, along with projected revenue from the campground and an operating shortfall for operating all the facilities, which will be covered by a gifted endowment to a non-profit with the proceeds supporting operating costs. The project at Schoodic is coming to a conclusion and the facilities are looking good. It will be a tremendous new attraction and provide important new visitor services on the Schoodic Peninsula. I think the main thing, for the community, is that the current 3-4 hours average stay will become 3-4 days, which means 200-300 people spending the night, buying groceries and using the local restaurants, and so on. Between the Schoodic Education and Research Center and Schoodic Woods, I think it will help the community with some of their economic challenges.
(Ken Smith) Will all the income from the camp ground go to the park service? Will the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) be discounted in any way or based on the appraisal of the property?
(Sheridan Steele) Yes. All the income from the campground will go to the park service. The PILT payment is based on what the previous landowner’s payment has been. The PILT is replacing the existing payment.
(Steve Katona) Would the commission like to hold the September meeting at Schoodic? And can we get a tour of Schoodic Woods?
(ANP Advisory Commission) All agreed to hold September Advisory Commission meeting at Schoodic.
(Sheridan Steele) Absolutely. And there will be a ribbon cutting event, tentatively scheduled for September 4th. Senator Angus King has indicated he would like to come up and camp in the campground with his RV and, maybe, help us cut the ribbon. September is not firm but we will try to nail it down but put it, tentatively, on your calendars. And when we have the meeting over there on September 14th, we will give you a tour.
(Steven Katona) We are always eager to see things done and impatient, too, but big projects take a long time. It this case, we are looking at the results of 10-12 years in the process, basically since 2004. The transfer to the park from the navy was in 2003. In this case we are looking at a decade worth of work by the park and the Commission has played an important role and it is lovely to see the culmination.
Construction Update - Keith Johnston, Chief of Maintenance
The park service is undertaken construction at the Frazer Creek Bridge. Today, the Frazer Creek picnic area will re-open to public use and two-lane traffic will resume on the bridge.
Everything in the campground is on track. We have done a tour of the operational side and custodial side. Everything looks like it is coming along pretty well. The bridge is on schedule. Construction should be done on July 31st. There have been a few hiccups as with any construction work.
As far as construction at MDI, work is being done on the motor road bridges. The Route 233 Bridge is complete.
Most of the work is now at near Jackson Lab on the Sieur de Mont Bridge with one lane above and one lane below. There is a three-minute light. I do not have the completion date with me.
The Fish House Bridge will be closed entirely until the bridge work is done.
Construction has not started on the Kebo Bridge yet. Work will be start after July 15th through September 2015. Traffic on the park loop road will be restricted to one lane traffic only intermittently throughout this period.
Thunder Hole is completed and fully open to the public. Public work is ongoing.
Blackwoods sewerage repairs are completed and fully functional.
Rockefeller Hall exterior work will be started this summer. It is in contracting hands right now. I look for potential awarding of the work next month.
Two other major sewage projects I have mentioned in the past include Seawall Campground sewage system, which we are still working with the town and looking for a long-range solution and, also, looking for an intermediate onsite solution to buy a little time while we work on it with the town. Next year, we will be starting a sewage line from Sier de Mont Spring out to the Bar Harbor municipality, which is in the design process now.
(Ben Winchester) Do you plan on closing Seal Cove Road?
(Keith Johnston) Seal Cove Road will be closed this summer to replace significant culverts on Seal Cove Road. We will repair damaged and outdated culverts but will replace them with fish friendly culverts. So we will be closing Seal Cove Road for two months this summer. Work has to occur between July 1st and October 1st (by permit for working in streams) so we will do this as quickly and as late as possible.
Transportation Plan – Presented by Keith JohnstonWe are undertaking a pretty substantial effort in transportation planning. This is a 12 member inter-disciplinary team with efforts spearheaded by John Kelly, Sheridan and me (Keith Johnston). The last 18 months has been in an effort get the Project Planner from the Denver Service Center onboard with us who has dealt with transportation planning with other national parks across the country, as well as arrangements with VHB (Vanasse Hungen Brustlin), which is a transportation company in the northeast region that provides transportation planning and engineering, planning and design, land development, and environmental services. They have done a lot of work for us in the past. They, along with our partners, have come together in this effort. We will be kicking off our first public meeting, which is to identify issues. You have a copy of the transportation newsletter in your packets which is going out. It is our effort to have the public come forward and see what the issues are before we start talking about what the solutions are. We are looking forward to a big turnout. We are running four meetings with exactly the same format. There will be meetings at MDI and at Prospect Harbor with two different time frames – two meetings in June and two in July. We hope to capture different audiences and visiting members of the public to go through the issues identification process. And then we will move forward to the next phase with our partners for developing preferred conditions for these sites and locations. The dates for this week are June 3rd at Prospect Harbor and June 4th at MDI. The second set of meetings will be July 29th at MDI and July 30th and Prospect Harbor.
(John Kelly) I would like to suggest, before your meeting in September, that you take the time to look at information we have offered and, hopefully, attend a public meeting for discussion at your next meeting; you can give us feedback as the Commission, if you would like; or have a one-on-one discussion outside the public meeting, which will be in a workshop fashion with individual conversation. But you may want to take the opportunity to discuss it directly with us in September.
(Sheridan Steele) We would like as much public comment as we can get on what the issues are, along with ideas for solving potential problems. If you can, encourage your neighbors and friends, business colleagues and others to send us their thoughts on email or paper if they cannot attend a meeting.
(Steven Katona) – Jackie, perhaps we can talk with the rest of the Commission separately on how we would like to participate.
Acadia Gateway Center – John Kelly, Planner (w/slides)Slides were presented on the history and status of transportation and the Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton. A brief history of the identification process began with the 1992 GMP. The GMP identified the need for a transportation system and suggested we have a location where visitors would come to get oriented and understand their options for transportation in the park. In 1999, The Island Explorer Transit System was started as part of a project with MDOT, USDOT, and others. There were 3 phases. In 2002, the first phase was creating a location where visitors would get oriented and get information for the park. That led to a design effort for a site which would be identified as the best location for a transportation hub. We looked at 8 properties, from on Island to Ellsworth, and ended up in Trenton at Crippens Brook site. In 2006 an analysis was completed to see how to best use the land for three areas; a Maintenance Center/Operations Center for the Island Explorer, a Visitor Center and Transportation Hub for Visitors. The concept was to develop it in three phases, the first phase, which was completed in 2012, is the Entry Way and the Maintenance/Operations Center and additional parking for the Island Explorer. In the future, we are looking at to build a Visitor Center and Transportation Hub with adding amenities to that in future years. It is public property. You can go back there, look at the property and buildings and enjoy the trails. The green building, just out of sight of Route 3, provides administration operations and dispatch for the Island Explorer, office space, employee space, and conference rooms. But more importantly it provides a washing bay for the Island Explorer buses to be washed, interior and exterior storage, and a maintenance area. In 2012, we designed a new revised version of a Visitor Center and Transportation Hub toward the front part of the property. We looked at services to be provided; park information, sales for Eastern National and Regional Tourism Information, lots of restrooms, a waiting area and a location for buses, including Island Explorer, tour buses and commercial motor coaches. With all improvements to include maintenance, utilities and roadwork, the budget was $14 million of which 78% was government monies. The design for the new construction was $1.275 million and that phase is complete. The design is done. What is remaining is the actual construction, whose cost is $12.5 million. To date the Federal Government has, through the Federal Transit Administration, provided $3.8 million to the State of Maine and it is being held. We are faced with an $8.7 million shortfall, which is where we stand today. The next step is taking a cautionary step back and we are asking, given the cost and design of the building, that Maine DOT work with the contractor ACOM to see if there are any cost savings by downscaling or redesigning the building to make that deficit much smaller.
Since we are doing a transportation plan, we are hoping all the pieces from around the park, as well as in the park, come together in the plan, i.e. Gateway Center, Ferry Terminal, Parking Garage downtown. One of the objectives of the plan is to help mitigate crowding and congestion, improve visitor orientation, increase compliance with bus issues and passes, help manage commercial tour buses, and support the Island’s tour buses. We are essentially on hold for two reasons. We want to look at how to bring that building down to a more reasonable size and function so we can, not only, construct it but operate it. Without building it, we want to know the function of the site and property and how it fits in to our larger transportation plan with everything going on rather than looking at pieces in isolation. So the next step would be to take it to the state to find out what the engineers can do to redesign the building and we will take it from there.
(Steve Katona) I think it will be important to feature conservation and renewable energy in the building to save money for the NPS, minimizing energy used and maximizing what can be gained renewably, both for financial reasons but, also, for demonstration reasons. I hope that will get a good strong look.
Car-Free Mornings – Stuart WestWe had an amazing turnout. They were 505 bicyclists and 195 hikers who took advantage of the car-free morning. We received some great statistics thanks to the Friends of Acadia Volunteers. The top three areas where visitors parked were:
1. Hulls Cove (#1 location)
2. Cadillac Entrance
3. Sand Beach Entrance
Results from the FOA Survey for the concept of our pilot program were: Page | 10
117 Highly Positive Reviews
13 Negative Comments
Comments included were:
The next car-free event will be on September 26, on National Public Lands Day, when we usually have more visitors. The buses will be operating so there are options to get to the interior sections of the park, which was one of the cons we heard. We are going to need the support of everyone to get the word out. It will be more of a challenge to us.
Are you heading toward eventually closing the park to all vehicles?
(Stuart West) We do not know at this time what the public wants or what outcome of the transportation plan will be. But we want to give the public the best experience that the park can provide. Seal Cove Road and the road to Stanley Brook will remain open on Car Free Days.
Park Entrance Fee Program Report –Stuart West, Chief RangerThere is a new national fee structure in place. In August, 2014, we received a memo from the Park Service’s Washington Support Office (WASO) raising entrance fees across the country. The last fee increase was in 2004.There has been very little negative response to the increase. People realized we were overdue for an entrance fee update. There have been mixed feelings over the sticker on the windshield versus the credit card style entrance pass. This is the new national standard. Last year, the amount on fee compliance increased from 68% to 75%. This year we are educating the public that entrance fees are required. New fee compliance means more income revenue. May first and Memorial weekend were a record in terms of our sales. On Memorial Day weekend campgrounds were completely booked, which has never happened in the past. The total amount of income for the weekend did not quite double.
(Keith Johnston) Our portion to keep is 80% minus the transportation fee with 60% of that amount going back to deferred maintenance as suggested by the park service. There will only be an increase of $350,000-400,000 (depending on weather and use) this year due to the delay in the implementation in May and delayed opening of Schoodic Woods. However, next year, the aggregated use fees will be almost $1 million more than 2014.
(Stuart West) This is a transitional year, as Commercial Use Authorizations, i.e. bus services to the park, require a one-year notification so it is not included in the new system until next year.
(Sheridan Steele) None of the fee income can go toward operating costs. The fees have to go into back-log maintenance and other capital improvement projects.
(Keith Johnston) Fees go to Interpretation, Operation and Visitor Impact Services.
Threatened Species- Becky Cole-Will, Chief of ResourcesNothern long-Eared Bat
The Northern long-Eared Bat has been listed as a threatened or endangered species in early May and has declined by 95% in the eastern part of the U.S. as a result of White-Nose Syndrome, which is a fungus that has been devastating to the bat populations. We have created an SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, which identifies how we will do business in the park so we do not advertently affect our bat populations, especially when the bats have their pups (young), which is June 1st to the end of July in standing trees in this area. We have been doing acoustic monitoring and sampling to determine locations of the bats within the park and will use that information to protect the bats and not adversely impact them.
Commercial Rock Weed Harvesting – Becky Cole-Will
Rockweed Harvesting is a major economic industry in the state with 95% of seaweed harvesting in Maine being rockweed, which is an intertidal species. There have been concerns, both in Maine and down east in Maritime Canada, as well, of the potential impact of the sustained harvesting on the rockweed populations. We have concerns about the intertidal habitat, which is incredibly rich and diverse with organisms. There is not a lot of information on what the potential impact might be. There is a lot of science going on in a variety of areas involving surveying inventory. To better understand the situation, Department of Marine Resources has established a working group across the state to develop a Management Plan for Rock Weed Harvest. As part of the process to develop the Management Plan, the working group is taking comments from Land Owners, Stake Holders and Federal Agencies. There have been a lot of public meetings. The park service looked into the Federal Law and Policy, which is very clear in stating that there will be no commercial harvesting of any plants anywhere in the park, or in any national park. So we issued a letter saying we would request that all Federal lands within jurisdiction in the National Park Service in Acadia and St. Croix be closed to commercial harvesting.
(Bruce Weirsma) Just out of curiosity, how far does the park’s legal responsibility extend with regard to the shoreline?
(Becky Cole-Will) That is a good question. Most of the park’s deeds extend jurisdictional authority to mean low water. But because of the nature off the way Acadia was assembled, a lot of the deeds are not that specific so they say they go to the water line. Stuart is spending a lot of time in consultation with the Solicitor’s office to understand this issue and to finalize the park’s jurisdictional boundary so we know exactly where that line is. But in most of the park it’s to mean low water.
(Steve Katona) Are you, also, including easements to Acadia National Park or are they different?
(Becky Cole-Will) Those are different, we think. At this time, in terms of this issue, we are not commenting on easement properties. I think many land owners are and other conservation holding agents and NGO’s are, but we are just looking at our jurisdiction.
Science and Education Updates – Becky Cole-Will and Lynne DominyBecky Cole-Will – Science There is a lot of science going on in Acadia on a regular basis, science in support of identifying issues in relation to management of the park; for example, the rockweed harvesting and understanding the issues with it. A great deal of inventory and monitoring science is going on in the park. For example, our wildlife biologists are out monitoring the Paregrine Falcons at the Precipice. The falcons have chicks now so they are being carefully watched. They are monitoring bats on a regular basis and looking at fish passage issues and the fisheries in the park. There is a great deal of science going on so we can understand how to best manage and protect the resources of the park. There are presently thirty-four (34) active research permits, some related to the Schoodic Institute and Science and Education, which is really the hallmark of the work they are doing there. (*The complete list of existing projects is attached, as requested by Steven Katona).
“Wild Acadia” is the idea that over the last 100 years a lot of our activities in the park have resulted in degrading of some of the resource values of the park. We are looking at how we can best provide opportunities for resiliency for ecosystems in the park using good science to understand management issues. It is an exciting, new idea about how to take care of parks using partners, and partner input and help. Friends of Acadia have raised funds and continue to support research for Acadia. Right now we are focusing on the Cromwell Brook Watershed area, especially Sieur de Monts. Keith mentioned that next year the septic system/field will come out there, which is an opportunity for us to restore a forested wetland there. We are working on understanding what some of the impacts are and how we can use the Science for Management to improve those conditions through the park
Lynne Dominy – Education We are talking education in the context of Acadia National Park. The national park system sees national parks as outdoor classrooms. It is a place for adults who want to learn and have experiences in these amazing places, as well as the next generation to build a connection and a life-long experience in the parks. In Acadia, we spend a lot of time with younger kids doing ranger-led programming in the park, where they come on field trips that are integrated in the curriculum in the schools so they can learn about the really amazing assets we have at Acadia that are critical to learning about concepts on the planet, whether it is geology or history or critical issues like some the things Becky was talking about – things that are so dynamic here, which are beyond the book. The kids come out and actually experience the real things on the landscape. We have a lot of ranger-led things that happen with kids that are younger. For the middle school kids, we have a residential experience because we know there is real value to having kids come for multiple days and get immersed in the experience. The Schoodic Education Adventure Program is with the Schoodic Institute at SERC. So for middle school kids, we really focus on residential experiences in Acadia. At the high school level, it is a harder group to get them interested in what is happening in the park. We found the real hook is to partner with Friends of Acadia on Youth Internships, so they have paid positons for kids to actually come do things like build trails with Keith’s program; to work in resources and do science out in the field with the scientists who work in the curatorial collection in the park; to help us understand more about technology and where we need to start branching the next generation in technology. We have a youth technology team. We have the “Ridge Runners” with Charlie, who are out doing stewardship and Leave No Trace education across the park. There are a lot of opportunities at the high school and college level for internships in the park. So you see a spectrum of learning and working in national parks to build the next generations of stewards that continues into adulthood. Many visitors that come to the park want a chance to go out with the rangers and understand more about Acadia. Wayside signage is incorporated across the park for people who are not with park rangers but stop at different locations and want to understand the concepts of what this place is. So when we talk about education in the national park system and Acadia, we are really talking about life-long experience and life-long learning for everybody. Education is for everyone. This is what we are working on at Acadia and you will see more as we go into the centennial next year.
OLD BUSINESSNo old business to address at this time.
NEW BUSINESSThe September 14 ANP Advisory Commission will meet at Schoodic Institute. Suggestions for agenda topics include:
-Transportation Plan (discuss individually or as a group by the Advisory Commission
in advance of the meeting for a response)
-A list of research projects has been requested (See attached)
-A presentation on pollinators
COMMITTEE REPORTSWe need our new members on the Advisory Commission. Once they are onboard, committees can be established and the meetings held prior to ANP Advisory Commission meetings from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Nothing to report at this time.
Nothing to report at this time.
Nothing to report at this time.
Science and Education
Nothing to report at this time.
SCHOODIC INSTITUTE REPORT –Mark Berry (slide presentation)You have heard a fair amount about ways Schoodic Institute is partnering with Acadia National Park. I appreciate Jack, Becky and Lynne for highlighting some of those. We are a close partner to Acadia National Park and that is a unique asset for us. We believe a partnership becomes a unique asset for the park where we try to create a model for public engagement in research and rich educational experiences that connect with genuine science. We also partner with a lot of others, i.e. Friends of Acadia, University of Maine, and partners across the state. But we have the unique opportunity to create what is the largest research learning center within the National Park Service system. We do all that with Acadia based at this wonderful campus on Schoodic Point. That is our Mission. It is, in some respects, broader than our partnership with Acadia National Park because we have something we are trying to accomplish directly, which is aligned with the park service’s mission and, again, a unique opportunity because of our partnership with Acadia and because of the setting in which we work at the tip of Schoodic.
As Abe has reported to you previously for the park, a top priority is ‘understanding and responding to rapid environmental change’. That is Climate Change, but also ocean acidification, invasive species, and changes as a result of wildfire. This becomes a focus area for Schoodic Institute as well, in support of the park. But we also help in coordinating all of the research that takes place in Acadia if it is not the direct work of park service personnel. It helps to coordinate all the research activities throughout the park. We seek to become a catalyst and magnet for ecosystem research and education but we also accommodate requests to do projects of interest with individual researchers. Some of the resources we bring to the table with regard to research are facilitating permitting, the long history of research in Acadia, and the historical records, which traditionally have been locked away. We have been very involved with engaging volunteers and helping to make those resources available to new researchers and to the public and also to make that information available online. We also bring opportunities to connect with Citizen Science Programs. With such programs, a researcher may be able to accomplish more by working with members of the public and we have the resources of the campus at Schoodic Institute and Schoodic Education and Research Center, not only in terms of research centers and labs but, also, the housing for research gatherings or groups and the opportunities to access the ocean. Citizen Science is a theme of our approach to give the public opportunities to engage in research. We are also the fiscal agent for International Citizen Science Association. Last week, Abe Miller-Rushing, Acadia’s Science Coordinator was in Washington, D.C. presenting for the National Science Foundation on the field of Citizen Science. There is genuine leadership for that initiative, with most credit to Abe.
Our school program is a partnership with Acadia National Park. However, we also have school programs in partnerships that do not bring students to Schoodic or Acadia. We have partnerships with schools and school districts that involve bring science out to schools, getting students outdoors in their own communities, working with researchers, often at the University of Maine and sometimes elsewhere. We have a pretty broad array of partnerships, in Maine as well as schools in 20 other states in 2014. There are a lot of public opportunities from the Welcome Center to Rockefeller Hall. We encourage public to visit our website or stop in at Rockefeller Hall. Our website highlights upcoming events.
(Ben Emory) Earlier on one of your slides, historical data was listed as one of the things you do. Is there a formal policy with the park that you (Schoodic) will be the repository and custodian for the park of the historical data?
(Mark Berry) No, we will not be the custodian of the data. We are helping the park service to make that data available to the public. The data, as it becomes available, is on a park service hosted website and data base call IRMA. We are helping with the process. It is public data and the park service has the responsibility to maintain it.
(Abe Miller-Rushing) We have over 1 million items in museum collections with thousands of documents pertaining to the history of research in the park. Emma Albee, and the staff from Schoodic and the park, have been digitizing collections, recruiting and digitizing outside research, and entering into a national data-base maintained in Fort Collins. It is park by park – no national effort. We are the park with the most records in the historical data-base. Physical records are stored onsite. The national website is http://irma.nps.gov (Search by Acadia)
(Becky Cole-Will) All parks hold museum and archive collections which are usually related to the mission and history of the park. Our collections are here at park headquarters and they are available for researchers or by appointment. For example, if someone is interested in the genealogy of the Hadlock family, or the Richardson’s, they can make an appointment. We are hoping to bring them into the digital world but it is a long process.
(Ben Emory) I get the impression the historical library needs more physical space. Storage is at the highest level. Do you need a Natural History Collections Facility?
(Becky Cole-Will) We are running out of physical space. It would be ideal and wonderful to have a Natural History Collections Facility.
(Steve Katona) In meetings in the past, there were discussions for a new Visitor Center. I was wondering, given this past topic and the information today, if there could be consideration for folding the Data Archives into the Visitor Center as one facility.
(Keith Johnston) Originally we had tabled discussion on new facilities. It was during a time when we were shut down and sequestered. Now we are looking at bringing it back to life as the same time we are undergoing a major transportation planning effort but running it somewhat separately. Some of our facilities are on the brink of collapse, without exaggerating. We need to have a comprehensive plan for what happens here at the Headquarters site; what happens at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center site; how can they tie, or not tie, into our transportation efforts and bring those together and identify everybody’s space needs so they are adequately addressed for our goals and situation. When we finished the design efforts for the entire headquarters site development effort, we had met with every division and gone through their space needs. Becky’s needs were captured in that planning effort. Whether we can actually rebuild everything is yet to be determined but the goal is to work through the compliance process which allows us to rebuild in phases accordingly in bite site chunks and address our facility needs as our ability to acquire funding comes together.
(Steve Katona) It is good that and planning for the visitor center and transportation plan are being done at the same time. Because ten years from now John Kelly will be able to show a slide and someone sitting on the Commission will be able to say say, “It looks good. That was a good job and they knew what they were doing”.
FRIENDS OF ACADIA – David MacDonaldJust as Mark said, Friends of Acadia report has been given by everyone else who has spoken. We have a hand in a lot of what is going on – Jack’s presentation, Lynne’s, Stuart’s. We work on all fronts be it Schoodic Woods, Transportation, Island Explorer, you name it. Things are moving along at quite a clip. Rather than a report, I will give you a couple of observations on what’s been discussed here today. First, it is clear that interest in our park is at an all-time high. Memorial Day, I had the same experience. It was May and look at our park, which was great. The turnout for the Centennial Meeting we held this morning - every kind of community business, non-profit and government entity was there. People are so excited to be a part of what is going on. The challenge before us is to not just have the folks come, consume, recreate and leave. Yes, they can do that but it is to really get them to think about the issues we are facing here at Acadia. I want to thank Sheridan and all his staff here for taking on the Transportation Plan, taking extra time to experiment with things like Car-Free Day, and taking on the leadership to pursue Wild Acadia. The temptation would be to deal with things on a day-to-day basis because there is a lot of interest and a lot of visitors coming but this administration and the folks and leaders at the park right now are taking on the big issues facing their park and we are really grateful at Friends of Acadia. Our work is not meaningful if we’re just lurching from one busy day to the next. We are very exciting by the work and the planning that is going on in the park. And I really want to echo what Sheridan said. The Commission has got a great role to play as these things come up. And as I looked around the table when Jack was giving his report, I was thinking, “you know more folks who should be Centennial partners and you know businesses and other organizations you are part of”. This is a really important moment for the park. It is not just about 2016. This is a point Sheridan stressed this morning. This is about 2020 and 2050 and 2090. The birthday we are doing now on a lot of these fronts is not about a one year birthday party. It truly is about the next century of our park, which is a lot to think about. But Friends of Acadia is right there with you. We are working on a lot of fronts. We are excited for the challenges that lie ahead this time of year. We are doing a lot of seasonal hiring. A couple of our folks are in the room here supplementing the park staff in many important ways. It is a really exciting time to be working here. I want to be a resource for anybody, individually on the commission or the commission as a whole. I don’t think we have seen a point in the park’s history like this for quite some time and I want us to all work together to seize it and really set the park on an exciting trajectory for the next century. I just want to say how pleased we are and we want to do resource protection.
(Steve Katona) I think we can all appreciate the fact that the work of the Friends is probably the major driver for the use of the park during the winter through the grooming program that your volunteers do. And that makes Acadia much more of a year-round park than it otherwise would be. Thank you very much.
PUBLIC COMMENTS:There were no public comments.
Closing CommentsThe Commission Chair made closing comments. I would like to recognize that Carolyn Gothard wanted to be here today but was unable due to family health issues. She had to be available to help her mother, who is 99 years old.
It was moved, seconded and unanimously voted to adjourn. The meeting adjourned at 2:50 P.M.
NEXT COMMISSION MEETING:Please remember to send any suggestions for agenda items for the September 14th, 2015, meeting to Steve Katona.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 14th, 2015, 1:00 P.M., at Schoodic Institute, Winter Harbor, Maine, as published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.
Minutes Transcribed and Respectfully Submitted by Kathy Flanders.
Active Permits for Acadia6/1/2015
Last updated: March 23, 2018