ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING
Monday, June 06, 2016 1:00 P.M.
Jacqueline Johnston, Vice Chair
Ken Cline, Member
Fred Ehrienbach, Member
Ben Emory, Member
Carolyn Gothard, Member
Matthew Horton, Member
Dexter Lee, Member
Howie Motenko, Member
Paul Richardson, Member
Stephen Shea, Member
Bruce Wiersma, Member
Ben Worcester, Member
Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, ANP
Michael Madell, Deputy Superintendent, ANP
Michelle Bierman, Fee Program Manager, ANP
Tony Davis, Fire Management Officer, ANP
Becky Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management, ANP
Emily Pagan, Land Resource Specialist, ANP
Kathy Flanders, Superintendent’s Secretary, ANP
David MacDonald, President, Friends of Acadia
Mark Berry, President/CEO, Schoodic Institute
Jack Russell, Acadia Centennial Task Force
Cookie Horner, Acadia Centennial Task Force
Members of the Public
The Commission Chair called the meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, being held on Monday, June 6th, 2016, to order. Thank you to everyone for attending the meeting of the Advisory Commission. We have a full house. This is my last meeting on the Commission and I am ambivalent, of course. I have very much enjoyed my time with all of you since 1997. Thank you for all that we have done together and I thank the park staff for all their support you have given the commission during the time I have served. I would like to reflect on all the good things the commission has done during that time. It was set up to do good things and, by in large, it has and and I know it will continue that way.
APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA
No additional items to add. No comments.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
We move on to the minutes of February 1, 2016. I have some paper copies and we distributed a copy of these minutes electronically for everyone to review. As always, we thank Kathy Flanders for her great work. Is there a motion to adopt the minutes of the February 1st, 2016, meeting?
A motion was made by Ken Cline to accept the minutes of the February 1, 2016, ANP Advisory Commission meeting; motion was seconded, and unanimously accepted.
The By-Laws, set out in the boundary legislation, was last updated in 2009. There is no guidance on how officers are to be elected, except it is suggested elections are held annually. The Commission members recommended the elections are done in public. We have ballots in your packets for Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary. The Commission made a motion to not using paper ballots, seconded and all agreed.
Chair - Carolyn Gothard nominated Jacqueline Johnston as Chair of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission; nomination stays with no other nominations; Ben Emery seconded; Jackie confirmed she would be very proud to serve, if elected; unanimously approved; no opposed.
At this time, Jacqueline Johnston officially assumed the position of Chair for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission.
Vice Chair – Ben Worcester nominated Fred Ehrienbach for Vice-Chair for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission; nomination stays with no other nominations; Paul Richardson seconded; unanimously approved; no opposed.
Secretary – Steve Katona and Katherine Heidinger nominated Carolyn Gothard as Secretary for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission; nomination stays with no other nominations; Carolyn confirmed she would accept the position. Matt Horton seconded; unanimously approved; no opposed.
Jackie Johnston requested volunteers to develop a proposed formal process, including timing and frequency, of officer elections to discuss at the next ANP Advisory Commission meeting. Volunteers include Ken Cline, Carolyn Gothard and Ben Worcester. Jackie also offered to assist.
Discussion of Commission Committee Assignments:
There are four important committees under the ANP Advisory Commission. Members were encouraged to volunteer for a committee via email to the Chair, Vice Chair or Secretary. Membership in each committee has dwindled with the departure of some Commission members and the length of time for new or renewed appointments. As most seats are now filled with current appointments, this is the best opportunity to address this issue. At the request of one of the commission members, the chair will research any previously established committee descriptions which may define their respective focus areas. In absence of previously established mission statements, she will work with Park staff to create a brief description and forward to all members in advance of the next meeting, along with a current list of committee members. The committees include,
Currently, all Commission members were appointed in 2016 and their terms will expire in 2019. The by-laws do recognize the process can be timely and, as specified, members can serve in the interim until reappointed or replaced.
Jacqueline Johnston read a resolution in recognition of Steve Katona’s service on the ANP Advisory Commission. (See attachment 1) Motion was made to accept the resolution, seconded and approved unanimously.
Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, presented Steve Katona with a letter of appreciation and a new book on Acadia National Park Centennial in appreciation for his 19 years of commitment to the ANP Advisory Commission and support to Acadia National Park.
Schoodic Woods Boundary – Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, and Steve Katona
Chris Rector attended the Lands Committee meeting earlier but is not at the ANP Advisory Meeting. Per Chris Rector’s report, the Delegation is pursuing legislation. But we have not seen any language yet. The process has begun. Chris mentioned the three offices are working together on this. We are really grateful the Commission’s voice, as well as many others, was heard. It will be a real step in bolstering community confidence in the park service and in the democratic process. We all expressed our gratitude to Chris Rector.
Fred Erhlenbach reported, as a point of interest, that all three representatives attended the League of Towns meeting in April. It was his understanding they are putting forth proposed legislation to be approved this fall.
This legislation is to officially change the boundary of Acadia National Park through Congressional Legislation to include the Schoodic Woods property.
Gouldsboro Route 186/195 – Jackie Johnston
At the last Advisory Commission meeting, it was discussed and approved for the Commission to send a letter to the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) on behalf of the Town of Gouldsboro in support of widening certain sections of Route 186/195 in Gouldsboro for safety reasons. A letter, written by Jackie Johnston, was sent and acknowledged by the MDOT who will be considering the input. In addition, the park service provided a letter, as well as SERC. The town was appreciative of the support.
Centennial Update – Cookie Horner and Jack Russell
We are halfway through 2016 and we have had lots of events with many more events planned. Check out the website, if you have not already: www.centennial2016.org. We had hoped to have 100, with as many as 200 partners. We are now well over 400 partners. We had our sixth gathering of partners in May for networking and inspiring each another. We have had a lot of events celebrating the past. The Dorr Museum is planning the opening of their new exhibit, entirely dedicated to George B. Dorr, on the 21st. The Seal Cove Auto Museum has a fabulous exhibit about the auto wars. There will be a reenactment of the original founders through their descendants that will take place in August. We are excited about the “Inspire Our Future” part of the Centennial. There are lots of young people involved. MDI High School decided to do an Acadia Awareness Week in May and invited Abe Miller Rushing to speak on Science in the Park; Paige Steele talked about volunteer and employment opportunities for young people; David MacDonald spoke about the importance of wild places; and they wanted to hear about the history. They put together a fabulous comedy skit on the history from the Big Bang thru to now, in a period of about five minutes. This fall a large number of girl scouts are coming to the park. The third grade at Conners-Emerson has developed an entire children’s website covering things to do with kids. There are concerts, art walks and lecture series; and the re-opening of the Nature Center at Sieur de Mont with a display on Climate Change. With the natural increase in visitation, we have worked very hard on the messaging through all of the Chambers and outreach media. We have developed rack cards (18,000) for hotels, motels, restaurants, etc. on how to enjoy our park differently, how to go to favorite places at different times, as well as enjoying the communities surrounding the park. Just to think about having a quality visitation. This week, Jack and I will be going to the hospitality training, put on by the Chamber of Commerce, to help talk to the people who do the hospitality and talk to visitors about having a good experience.
On Saturday afternoon, December 10th, at the Criterion in Bar Harbor, we will have the final gathering of all our partners and friends to seal the bicentennial time capsule of 2016, with a modest little party.
Please try to get to as many Centennial events as you can. A lot of people and our partners have worked so hard on these events and they appreciate seeing everyone at the events.
Jackie Johnston and Kevin Schneider both expressed how grateful we are for all the effort, work, and time Jack and Cookie have put into the Centennial 2016. They have done a phenomenal job.
Fire Management in the Park Update –Tony Davis, Fire Management Officer
Fire is cyclical in nature. As we know, there is no fire in the winter. Then we have the spring when the snow retreats, which leaves us with dead grasses. This is when we have our first round of fires. During this time period, we only have one person on duty, and that is me. Our four fire fighters are not onboard until May. We do have a lot of great help from fire departments in our surrounding communities, as well as the Maine Forest Service, who has been very helpful with fire suppression. They have a big stable of helicopters they can use for fire suppression and they will bring them over when we need them. Then we go into green-up and live fuel moistures are high. During this time, you can’t get much to burn and there is little concern of fires traveling across a field. If fire were to get under the understory, there may be a chance of understory fire. The Keetch Fire Drought Index is relatively low right now. That is a monitor that takes soil index into account and presently, the moisture in soil is high. If you scrape away the weeds, you will find moisture underneath. It keeps the fire from growing very large and they are relatively easy to subdue. As we move through the summer, if there is a lack of rain, live fuel moisture will go down and we have more potential for a fire. That will be the second part of our fire season. Usually we have additional firefighters onboard. This year we have four seasonal firefighters and one staffed Type 6 engine at Acadia, and we can still rely on our cooperators to assist. We do need to be concerned about the low frequency, high consequences events, like the Bar Harbor Fire of 1947. We need to think about it and prepare. We might not have a big fire in any of our lifetimes. Since I arrived in September, I have noticed a lot of municipal watersheds, i.e. Eagle Lake, two Hadlocks, Long Pond, etc. There could be a concern should we have a bad drought season. If a fire was established, it could burn out some of the watershed vegetation. We would need to have a study by a hydrologist of the effects of it. It could leave sedimentation over several years until regrowth of vegetation. One concept would be to, in strategic locations, thin along the carriage roads, motor roads, and some of the roads behind Long Pond in Southwest Harbor by cutting anything 4 inches or less in diameter, pile up any dead-fall and burn 150’ off the edge of the road on both sides. By doing this, firefighters with limited resources would be able to use that area to backfire and contain a fire, keeping it from getting into a watershed. There are a number of hurdles before we implement. One being buy-in and acceptance of the project itself. On Schoodic, we found fire rings placed in vegetation in the walk-in sites and removed them. There is no water if we should get an escaped fire. We have help from Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro. There is potential but I do not think we need to be alarmed unless we have a severe drought period. We do allow campfires over there. We have a Type 7 engine that we might be able to make available, if we can staff it properly and then have it on standby. There has not been a prevention program around here that I am aware of yet. However, I have been talking with the Maine Forest Service and they just received a grant to help with public awareness. It is statewide but some of the monies are intended for Mount Desert Island. They have a number of workers, a chipper, and a truck and we are going to start working together, with the public, to clear around homes in a fire-wise manner and drag debris to the edge of the road so the truck can come along and chip it. We are going to start working on prevention. It is so much easier to prevent now than work with the low frequency, high consequence during a fire. The Maine Forest Service is joining us to help on Science Day at Sieur de Mont on July 25th for public contact.
(Ken Cline) In the 1990’s, a study was done on the island and the park through the University of Pennsylvania. As a result of that study, the long Pond drainage was identified to be particular at risk in terms of a catastrophic fire and affecting the water quality. They did a lot of mapping and the information might be useful. There may be records of it at COA.
A fire study will be done by Jessica Charpentier from Antioch College. Jessica has been working with William Patterson and they will be coming to Acadia to continue working on a fire study. In the 1990s, Bill Patterson was here and did a number of plots measuring forest vegetation. They looked at the new composition and the growth pattern 40 years after the 1947 fire. They will be giving us GIS layers of the forest composition and fuels composition on the island. They will look at concentrations of fuels and possible areas where we might want to do fuels treatment to reduce hazardous fuels. I would like to have copies of any studies COA might have.
The fire danger ratings are located at the fire departments. Regarding the parks management of blow-downs and rotting trees, all fuels have a fire return interval. Out west, there is a 7-12 year interval where the fire would move through and clean-up, which is the ecology there. That is a frequent fire return interval. Here, we have a 500 year stand-replacing fire interval. With the ecology here, if the fire gets in during a drought, it takes everything out and the growth starts over. We do not need to really do anything to the forest as that is the way it is designed. When there is blow-down, it lays in the forest until the cycle comes through and cleans it out. However, if we want to manage and not allow our valuable municipal water shed get burnt, we could, in a good strategic location, remove some of the down fall. But we don’t want to take down big trees, only the small stuff, so fire fighters can operate in that location, pull hose, and have a clear visibility. We might be able to get out around a fire with our limited resources. We will only clean out a limited area. It is a big ambitious project which would happen over several years to get done.
Transportation Plan Update – John Kelly, Management Assistant
Our visitation for April was up 49%. May was up 11.8% based on preliminary data. There is a good chance of pushing over 3 million visitors, the first time in the park’s history.
The new 2016 schedule is out for the Island Explorer. It started running on the Island May 23rd and it started running at Schoodic on May 25th, operating to the campground. It will be running on a half hour service through the operation of the campground.
Now that we have invited the whole world to Acadia for the NPS Centennial, we have to determine how to move them to and throughout the park while protecting resources and maintaining a high quality visitor experience. As stated in our newsletter, “the purpose of the transportation plan is to determine how to best to provide safe and efficient transportation and a variety of high quality experiences for visitors within Acadia while ensuring the protection of park resources and values”. To do this it is a long and methodical process which requires a lot of public input. We have to look at this holistically and comprehensibly, and in a way that is sustainable.
A brief history/update of the process of our Transportation Plan:
In terms of timing with the September 12th ANP Advisory Commission meeting, we will ask for a block of time to talk about the Transportation Plan and it will serve as a good opportunity for the commission to delve in. It will also be an opportunity for the park Use Committee to take a good look into the Transportation Plan. I encourage you all to go to the public meetings and to read the information we have available. We are hoping to finish the plan by the summer of 2018. We are not quite mid-way through the process. We still have the Environmental Policy Act Review; where we come out with the Draft Alternatives, our Preferred Alternatives, and Environmental Analysis, which will go out for public comment and, hopefully, finalized by 2018. Once the Centennial is over, this will be a major focus for the park, along with several other things going on, including Fire Management.
The Acadia Gateway Center, as well as the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal, the parking garage, and other efforts going on outside of the park, need to be looked at in context with all our transportation issues. Everything we do is going to affect neighboring towns and state highways. We will make every effort to work with MDOT. The future of the Acadia Gateway Center will be addressed. It will play a role in the plan but rather than it moving ahead by itself, we are thinking we incorporate it into the alternatives.
The study of the future park headquarters does play into how the park operates and it is parallel with the Transportation Plan. However, it is separate and we will probably do a briefing on it at the next commission meeting, as well.
Construction Updates – Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent
We had plans to undertake four major construction projects this summer. Two are under contract and moving forward, one had contracting issues and it does not look like it is going forward, and the fourth one we are hoping to get under contract. The two moving forward are both sewerage projects, one at Sieur de Mont with a total replacement of the system and a connection to the Town of Bar Harbor sewer system. It is scheduled to being the Tuesday after Labor Day. The Sieur de Mont area will be open and available to Labor Day. Effective the following Tuesday, the Nature Center will be closed, the parking lot will largely be unavailable as it will be used for a lay down area for the construction, however, seven to eight parking spots will be available, along with port-a-potties. Temporarily, access will become a two-way road in through the out road to accommodate any traffic and buses will not be allowed access to due to tightness of it. We will encourage the Island Explorer to drop people, who are interested in using the trails, off on the tour road. The Abbe Museum has opted to stay open, and access to the trails will remain. The tour road between Ledgelawn and Sieur de Mont will be down to one lane traffic and have flaggers to accommodate connection to the town system.
The other project is replacement of the sewage system at Seawall Campground. That will begin after Labor Day. The Seawall campground will be closing Labor Day but, to offset loss of the sites, we will keep Blackwoods Campground open through October and, weather permitting, possibly through November. This will not affect the Seawall picnic area. The Seawall Campground will be available for parking only during the Star Party that occurs there.
Unfortunately, the project that fell through this summer was repair of a section of collapse of the carriage road, which occurred last year east of the Lower Mountain Road and east of Jordon Pond and the Gatehouse. That stretch of road will remain open this year with barricades to provide for visitor safety. All users will continue to move through that area; carriages, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We are in hopes of completing the project next year.
The project we have not put to contract yet is the Duck Brook Bridge Rehabilitation on Paradise Road. If it goes through contracting within budget, it will go August through October. Paradise Hill Road will be open but reduced to one way with flaggers. We have looked at the bridge to determine if it is hibernacula with any bat species we have here. This has not been determined yet. It was used in the past by bats. If it is determined to be potentially hibernacula, we will need to coordinate with the Fish & Wildlife Services.
Highway 3 Reconstruction/Duck Brook Culvert – Mike Madell & Becky Cole Will, Chief of Resource Management
Highway 3 is not a park project but it will have impacts on the traffic in the park, as well as the towns. Emera is working on the utility lines on Highway 3. The actually work on the road project will not commence until 2017. It will affect the park mostly in 2018, roughly in the Hulls Cove area and into the town of Bar Harbor. In preparation, we have been holding conversations with MDOT and the town of Bar Harbor. We have reached a tentative agreement of principle to allow Paradise Hill Road between Hulls Cove and West Street Extension to operate as a detour for Highway 3 during the period of time they are working on the lower stretch. It will be two-way traffic during our main use season through mid-October or early November, and as we get to the point where we normally close the road, it will be a detour northbound only. We have been working with the state and the town for supplemental support in the form of law enforcement to offset additional stresses put on our resources.
Somewhat related to that, there is a major bridge that crosses Duck Brook in the area of the Holiday Inn. We believe this project is an excellent time for MDOT to work on the culvert that carries Duck Brook under the road and design it in a fashion to facilitate fish passage between Duck Brook and into Eagle Lake. Presently the design for the culvert to be retrofitted into, what they call, a slip line, which I understand will not help the fish passage whatsoever. We are trying to work with MDOT to rethink that and to integrate a design with conditions which will help with fish passage in that area. There is a dam lower down Duck Brook, which is an issue as fish cannot navigate it. We have had preliminary discussions with the property owner and he is interested in, or willing to entertain, discussion on removing the dam or creating structures that will provide for fish passage. We will be hearing more on this project within the coming two years.
Upon agreement, the ANP Advisory Commission will draft a letter to MDOT expressing their concerns with the slip line with a copy sent to Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources.
Friends of Acadia is involved with the project through Wild Acadia Initiative and, through a relationship with the land owner, we are leading the discussion about the dam. It is a big project and we are very sensitive to not wanting to throw the schedule off. If we can get the agencies talking together, in the right timeframe it makes a lot of sense. We will do what we can to help.
Online Pass Sales Update – Michelle Bierman, Fee Program Manager
You have two charts (Attachment 2a & b) in your packets. Our goal was to launch our online pass sales in January, 2016. Our first online park passes were sold in February. 32% of our passes are weekly vehicle passes. You can print them, put them on the dashboard, and then pass through the entrance stations or they can show their phone and receive their ticket for the dashboard. 6% of our website visits are international, 94% US. Only 32% of online pass sale purchasers accessing the online site are accessing with their mobile device. Everyone else is accessing with their computer. Early on, we decided to route people through the ANP website before they went to the “Your Pass Now” website so they would have a full understanding of all the passes that are available. For example, we do not want someone purchasing a weekly pass if they are eligible for a senior pass. The “Your Pass Now” link is imbedded in the Fees and Passes Information so people are aware of everything that is available to them before making a purchase. 4,500 passes that were purchased were accessed through ANP’s website. Just under 3,000 went directly to the “Your Pass Now” website. A copy of our brochure is in your packet, which we are getting out in the community. We also have a rack card and postcard. Internally, we have a new Fee Information Sheet for all maintenance staff and trail crew to assist with answering questions from the public. It also has the link to our website. Presently, we are manually verifying all passes that come through our entrance stations. We will be verifying with I-Phone 6’s, which have arrived. The APPs are being uploaded and they should be available mid-month. The general consensus is that everyone who has purchased a pass is very happy to have been able to purchase one. The online sales include a weekly motorcycle, individual weekly ($12), weekly vehicle ($25) and Acadia annual pass only. This does not include Senior Federal Passes. That may change in the future. This is a pilot program.
We have done compliance surveys over the last couple of years and we found that Maine vehicles only have about a 30% compliance rate.
I also have forms for your vehicle pass for 2016. Please fill it out with your vehicle tag information and return it. If your vehicle information has changed, please enter the correct information. If it is the same as 2015, please fill in ‘same information”. You are welcome to fill them out and turn them in before you leave today.
Science & Education
Land - Paul Richardson
We met with Emily Pagan, Land Resource Specialist, about what will be coming up and or changing. I have asked her if she would report to you on donations that have been received already.
Emily Pagan – This was an exciting year. We had a lot of land projects that have been in the works for a number of years, which are being finalized this year. The first project is with the Hancock County of Trustees Public Preservation. There was one last parcel of land they owned, which is approximately two acres, down near the Seawall picnic area that was conveyed to the park this year as a donation. There will be a celebration in August. That will cap off all the historical work they have done this past century.
The second is Elliotsville Plantation donations which includes ten donations that equal about 71 acres. They have been working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust over the past ten years to acquire parcels within the boundary from moving sellers. They have purchased these properties and they are donating them to the park this summer, hopefully in July and August.
We have some Land and Water Conservation Fund money to purchase three other parcels that we have been working on with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The land owners were willing to sell to the park but our partners helped up to acquire those parcels and hold them until the park had the funding to purchase them. There are three parcels that equal about 71 acres; one parcel in Northeast Creek, one parcel at the Round Pond area which is in conjunction with one of the Elliotsville Plantation parcels, and 62 acres on the south end of Seal Cove Pond with beautiful undeveloped shoreline and mostly undeveloped land except two acres with a house and garage. We can purchase them in 2016/2017. All these parcels are identified in the 1986 boundary legislation.
The celebration of the Hancock County of Trustees Public Preservation donations will be held August 22nd at the Episcopal Church, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the first celebration of the conservation of the Sieur de Mont National Monument. We will have three iconic speeches. Josh Torrance and the rest of the Trustees Board will present Kevin with the donation in an official ceremony that will celebrate 100 years of land donations.
FRIENDS of ACADIA UPDATE – David MacDonald, President & CEO
As in the past, I love it when the course of the meeting covers topics that Friends of Acadia is involved with, everything from the book presented to Steve as a thank you (proceeds are benefitting Friends of Acadia) to the land project just discussed that we did in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and all the projects in between; Sieur de Mont, Duck Brook, Island Explorer. This is what we are doing, supporting Kevin and his staff in so many ways. I think that I would add first, our thanks, Steve, for your service. You have been terrific and really captured the spirit of how the commission can work at its best. We appreciate it. And Jackie, for stepping up, we look forward to supporting you and to your work going forward. A couple of things that didn’t come through in the other reports, first we would like to invite you to our annual meeting on July 8th, which is always a great day. It will be held at the Bar Harbor Club, 3:45 pm. This year it is a special edition because July 8th is the birthday of Acadia National Park. That is the date Woodrow Wilson accepted the initial deeds and the monument was begun. We hope you join us. There will be some special speakers and special announcements. It is going to be a really fun day with birthday cake. We would love for you to join us on that day.
Other things coming up and that are current, Stephanie Clement testified a few days ago in Denver at an EPA Hearing on the Clean Air Act and regional haze rules and efforts to strengthen those and working with Acadia’s science staff. Acadia is a real success story on how the Clean Air Act is working. Stephanie spoke on when she began with Friends of Acadia this was a real issue. And many of these smog reports, smog days, haven’t gone away but they have gone down significantly. So we were there to report from the front lines on how the Clean Air At is working in our national parks. So thank you, Stephanie, for making that trip. I also spent some time with Kevin and his staff on Friday with some House Congressional Staffers who were visiting. They came over to Acadia after holding their hearing on the North Woods proposed national monument up north. We had a great day. These folks were working for Chairman Bishop and were sponges, soaking up as much as they could about Acadia National Park. We, of course, were able to advocate and work on some issues that are important to all of us. Interestingly, they are very keen to our online park pass sales. Acadia is one of five or six model parks and they had some great ideas. These folks are 22-23 years old so they are that young audience that we are trying to reach. They had some great ideas for the program. We also provide matching funds for the Centennial Challenge Grant for Acadia National Park this year. This week, and last week, over 500 fourth graders, as part of Every Kid in the Park, is visiting Acadia and they are out on field trips with interpretative staff. We were really pleased to have our matching funds help the park take advantage of that Centennial Challenge funding. We will be touring around the park next week with representatives from Canon USA. This has been a very generous corporate sponsor, right there along with LLBean. They have been funding a lot of Becky’s department’s work under Wild Acadia; water quality monitoring, basic plant removal. We are entering that season where there is more touring around Acadia and show and tell. We are thrilled to be doing that, as well as all the work that Cookie touched on on the Centennial. Thank you for your work and I will be glad to answer any questions about things that were brought up today or going forward, as well.
Schoodic Institute Update – Mark Berry, Executive Director
Thank you to Steve for his many years of service. Thank you to all of you for your contributions. I would like to highlight Katherine Heidinger for her service on our board, as well. As Schoodic looks at the centennial, one thing we focus on is that science was one of the original purposes of the original vision for Acadia National Park as recorded in the declaration by President Wilson on the creation of the monument and very much in the vision of the other founders. Our role is largely trying to help the park service achieve that potential for ecosystem science that is important to the park and the region, but also to take advantage of the park as a place of inspiration for science and a place for science education. We do that often, as you know, by engaging the public in science and the process through citizen science.
We had a successful Acadia Winter Festival as an early Centennial event in partnership with Camp Beach Cliff. We didn’t have a lot of snow but we had a nice event anyway. We had teachers and students around the state monitoring the snowpack, which was the third year of a snowpack project. We put out a call for proposals for research fellowships and we awarded those. We have nine small grants for research at Acadia this year and next year. We believe that is an important strategy connecting promising young researchers that go into the park and learn about its potential as a natural arbitral research site. We are also engaged in citizen science work. You have heard of, probably, the Dragonfly Mercury Project. Training videos for that effort are now in 71 parks across the country. It is something that started here and something that is part of informing EPA Regulations, as well. The project has brought new information about mercury and ways it is affecting regulations is important. One of the most impactful ways of reaching a wide audience is through our partnership with the park. So our staff has been involved this spring in training opportunities for the crop of interpreters that comes on every spring in Citizen Science and in the scientific issues affecting the park. The few of us reach millions of visitors because of Acadia’s interpreters.
We have one new hire, Forest Ecology Program Director, Nick Fisichelli. Nick was in the Climate Change Response Program in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was here last fall helping to lead the park and a number of partners in the surrounding communities through a climate change scenario planning process and he was able to spend a few days at Acadia. The report on that effort just came out and it should continue to inform park staff to think about the challenges climate change will be posing. Nick will be doing broader work connected to our forest and research collaborations to our forest moving forward. We have a new position advertised for Director of Programs, which is a leadership position at the institute. It will oversee all of our program staff and play a key role in building new collaborations, new projects and new partnerships.
We have undertaken a long term lease of the former Palmer Winter Harbor Marina Property and created a new entity as the Schoodic Marine Center. To manage that property, we will spend most of the winter to do diligence on the lease. We have scrambled over the last few weeks since Memorial Day. There are now two ferry services operating in Bar Harbor; downtown and College of the Atlantic to Winter Harbor. There are onsite bike rentals available at a local business. College of the Atlantic is going to bring a small version of their whale museum over for the summer. It is a place that has a lot of potential to support our education and research for connecting people to the ocean. It is already transportation competence important for Schoodic. I do not see it as a relief valve for solving problems over here (MDI) but I do think it is important on the Schoodic Peninsula and for the transportation plan at Schoodic.
As with the whole centennial, there are a lot of events and talks coming up. Becky Cole-Will and Abe Miller-Rushing are giving a talk on June 30th on the history and future of Science and Resource Management at Acadia.
As far as how the duo ferry service is working, it is early yet and there is still some work. Things are not proven yet as being straight forward. We are trying to iron things out and help them iron them out.
Bill Sweet, Member of the Public, suggested having information about Schoodic available on one handout to convey information to include Schoodic Institute, The Schoodic Marine Center, Island explorer, and the ferry services. It would be a one-stop-shop.
That is a fair point, but it is not the Institutes primary role to take a lead and try to drive that traffic but I do know one ferry service has produced a rack card and the Island Explorer has materials that include both ferry schedules. That might be the easiest one-stop-shop that already exists.
The Commission Chair made closing comments.
Please remember to send any suggestions for agenda items for the September meeting to Jackie Johnston.
Motion to adjourn was made by Paul Richardson, seconded by Fred Ehrienbach. The meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 12th, 2016, 1:00 P.M. at Schoodic Education and Research Center, Winter Harbor, Maine, as published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.
Minutes Transcribed and Respectfully Submitted by Kathy Flanders
Last updated: February 2, 2018