Jackie Johnston, Vice Chairman
On behalf of folks who once worked at the formal Naval base here, thank you for another year of support from SERC for hosting our second annual reunion of the Naval Security Group Activity, Winter Harbor, and special thanks to Michelle Bierman for doing a lot of the heavy lifting. It was a beautiful day and a lot of great memories. It was much appreciated.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
The June 1st, 2015, minutes were sent out to everyone twice, electronically, and by horse and buggy to Paul. I have a few hard copies should anyone wish to see them. Any edits that were submitted to Kathy have been included. Does anyone wish to look at the hard copies or would anyone like to offer a motion to approve? A motion was made for the approval of the June 1st , 2015, minutes (Fred Ehrlenbach
). It was seconded (Carolyn Gothard)
. All approved. No opposed. Thank you to Kathy for taking those minutes. Anyone in the audience is welcome to a copy.
Schoodic Woods - Sheridan Steele, Superintendent (w/map)
Since we just had a tour of Schoodic Woods, I would like to give everyone a ‘once over’ update. In the 1990’s, 3,200 acres was owned by a family in Italy. Schoodic Woods, LLC, a private nonprofit operating under Lyme Timber, purchased that property in 2011. In the summer of 2013, the owners have been working on developing facilities on the south half which totals just under1500 acres. During that process they donated a conservation easement on it to the National Park Service which you folks reviewed a couple of years ago and approved. So we now have a conservation easement on the south half. The facilities we toured today includes a campground, day-use parking, eight and one/half miles of bike paths, four and one-half miles of new hiking trails, restrooms, a maintenance building, visitor information building, campground office, and one employee quarters. All of that was completed about mid-August. They also redid the causeway, which you had to drive across to get here. There is a new bike lane on the causeway now. That was completed separately because it was on park land and had to be handled as a park project. All of this work is basically done now except a couple of minor things, and one major Page | 3 things, which are the utility lines along the road. There is conduit in place and line underground. They will need to make the switch-over and remove the poles and lines. This should take place within a couple of months, I hope. All of this land and the facilities were donated to The National Park Foundation, which is a Washington DC charitable organization established by Congress to accept land and donations on behalf of the national parks. They are now the owners of the facilities but we operate everything under the auspices of the conservation easement which gave us affirmative rights and we have entered into an agreement to manage all of that. It is one grand gift to the American people through the National Park Foundation. The gift included the purchase of all the equipment needed to run a campground. They bought a pickup truck and campground vehicles and all furnishings for the various buildings, basically everything we would need and it is budget neutral. It is not costing the park anything. We estimated the revenue from the campground and the operating costs and there was a shortfall. So the donors put up an operating endowment to cover it. It is, also, budget neutral for the community in that the property taxes are covered through a separate ‘payment in lieu of taxes’ annual fund which was established by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust as part of the larger project. It is now owned by the National Park Foundation and they would like to transfer the fee ownership to the National Park as quickly as they can because they would rather not be the property owner of it, even though we are managing it. The only thing that would change would be the park boundary. The Chairman has something more on that in a minute.
I would like to add that so far there has been 480 (+ or -) campsite nights occupied between September 1st and September 14, which is about 1,000 people spending the night. One big difference between now and one year ago, the average length of stay was 2-3-4 hour range and is now is 2-3-4 day range, which will be good for the community because those are people shopping for groceries and using the local restaurants, and otherwise doing business locally because they are spending more than a few hours there. It is very positive for the community. Anyone on the commission have any questions?
I would like to provide some additional local comment. Having talked with members of the community in Gouldsboro and having attended the most recent Board of Selectman’s meeting. I came away with feedback from the entire board that was overall very positive. Selectman’s comments did include how the new influx of visitors and robust facilities would change Schoodic obviously to some degree. However, we did discuss that the park would be managing public safety, as well as the overall visitor experience, as they manage the campground. Also, the town remains interested in the possibility of maintaining affordable housing on the portion of the remaining lands [north of Rt. 186]. But that discussion may actually take place outside of the national park interest - that is my understanding.
Continued concern was expressed about how elevated visitation had the potential for increased demand on local municipal resources for safety and fire and police services. There is a desire to keep that discussion going in the future (with the Park.) With that said, the Board, overall, acknowledged the extreme generosity of the donor and the good fortune to have such a first class facility in our back yard for people in our community to enjoy. That summarizes the feedback from the community.
Thank you Jackie. One element Jackie mentioned was affordable housing and there may be land for that. I have only been talking about the south half. The north half is still owned by Schoodic Woods, LLC, and their plans for that are very much open. And a possibility of a piece of land for workforce housing, in my mind, would be a very real possibility if presented to the owners through Lyme Timber. So those discussions have yet to begin. Now that this is done, I know they are interested in beginning to think about the north half.
I do want to acknowledge that, in the audience, is one of the selectman, as well as the Town Manager if the Chair would consider entertaining comments from them at this point.
That would be most welcome.
Roger Bowen, Selectman, Town of Gouldsboro:
I would like to commend Sheridan for his outstanding leadership. I think he has brought a lot of energy, a great deal of insight and an enormous intelligence to this project. We are in your debt. I want to provide a status report on public safety issues. Recently Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor have reached an historic, positive agreement to share a position of fire chief. This has been a long time coming but I think both communities seen there is a greater efficiency by doing this and, also, savings. But at the same time it reflects a crisis here in Maine. Volunteer fire departments are shrinking. Fewer people want to volunteer and there is less incentive. The last report I have there are only four volunteers in the Winter Harbor Fire Department. One has already publically announced his intention to leave over the issue of hiring a fire chief. We have two good candidates for fire chief. The two communities agreed to extend an offer to one of these two candidates. After receiving a counter offer, we found it to be more money than we had available. What do we do? If we don’t get more volunteers in the two towns’ fire departments, public safety will be an issue. It will be an issue for the park as well because we do respond to calls here; whether a bicycle accident, automobile accident, someone collapsing; Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor will respond. We would like to see, at some point, the park or maybe the family foundation, step up and make a contribution that would allow us to afford a full-time fire chief position, with benefits (currently not provided) and improve public safety here. It’s a moment of truth for the two towns and, I think, the park as well. We ask you to consider it. I will be happy to respond to questions or comments.
Thank you. Are there any questions from the commission? For information purposes, can you say what sort of amount of money contributions you need?
Roger Bowen, Selectman, Town of Gouldsboro:
The town of Gouldsboro allocated $32,000 at their June meeting. They are paying 80% of the Fire Chief’s salary based on a 40 hour week. Winter Harbor picks up the difference to make it 100% but without benefits. Roughly, we would need an additional $10-15K annually. Neither town has the authority from the tax payers to go that next step. I think there is a lot to be gained here on the peninsula in terms of public safety. The Gouldsboro Fire department is, likewise, concerned about having serious problems in recruiting volunteers.
More of a comment to back up what this gentleman has said. I have been on the Bar Harbor Fire Department for twenty years and I can tell you, everything they are facing here, every department in the state is facing. Because the requirements involved and the busy lives that people live today are making recruitment and retainment of people difficult. If you can have one central figure that can rally people together, and that’s what goes on a lot, if you have a real leader at the helm in the form of a fire chief, you can really bring in a lot of new recruits. The ratio is you may get five people but only one or two will stay when they realize how much of their time is impacted by what’s required.
: If I remember correctly, this is a reversal of the old days. The fire department used to be located here on the navy base and they would provide mutual aid to the communities.
Absolutely and Prospect Harbor was the call center for emergency calls, as well. So the navy provided support in a couple of different ways.
But the navy is gone. So in this case, I think what you are saying is the departments would be available to help the park deal with emergencies.
Roger Bowen, Selectman, Town of Gouldsboro:
Which they have, historically. I am anticipating, with all the positives that Sheridan outlined, there will be negatives. And the negatives are - more people, the more likelihood of accidents, forest fires, campground fires, heart attacks which require EMTs and the like in the meantime. Just think it’s in our mutual interest to share the burden of responsibility.
: The park rangers typically respond to wildfires (land fires) though we may be calling in mutual aid for structural fires. If anyone is injured on the trails, first responders would be the park rangers, and the park rangers would contact the ambulance service if they need hospitalization. Though we always know the communities are there. I also understand the park rangers have, on occasion, come out to assist municipalities.
It sounds like this is a situation where everyone needs to work together in order to meet anticipated eventualities. Does the Commission have any guidance? We may want to think about this a little more and make a resolution, but if there is anything further coming from this table today, I would like to hear it.
I have one thing to add that, along with the facilities, there will be additional staffing. So we will have additional rangers and campground staff, which makes us better able to respond to some of the situations.
I did advise the town to consider trying to gather data in terms of safety and security because I know there is also concern about what happens outside the boundaries of the park with increased visitation as people drive to and from the park. That way we will have comparative data rather than relying on speculation, We should continue this conversation should there be something that could be done in the future.
Do you need to make a response to this person immediately?
Roger Bowen, Selectman, Town of Gouldsboro:
The preferred candidate owns a home on Schoodic Peninsula and wants to live here year-round. I have a very strong sense if the employment terms were attractive; he would come back here in a heartbeat. It is very clear this is the job he wants. That could happen six months or a year down the road. I will say, I don’t mean to be argumentative, although I am sure it sounds that way, that Jackie’s point is a fair one about gathering data. I would just caution you that data from the past does probably not predict that of the future. In a large part because we are talking about a significant expansion and, with Sheridan’s own figures he just shared, arriving number of people. And where there are more people, there are more accidents. One last point, public safety is a broad issue. With the Gouldsboro Police Department, all the policemen are certified and qualified through the academy. Winter Harbor is not the case. We have a protocol two towns mutual aid agreement. The two towns work very well. The Police Departments get along very well. In the event of a death, only Gouldsboro Police can respond because you have to have the academy training. The greater burden right now on my town of Gouldsboro is the burden that we expect to grow over time with increased traffic here on the peninsula. Even though most of the park is located in Winter Harbor with a small portion in Gouldsboro, in terms of human hours of contributions, I think the burden will typically fall on Gouldsboro.
Thank you very much for the articulate and persuasive presentation. Hearing about it for the first time, I don’t think it is something we can take action on today but we will certainly take this in consideration and figure out if and how help could be organized toward this request. That’s if and how. Thank you for that. And thank you, Jackie. Sheridan, the northern section is the water district. Right? And the National Park Service does not have interest in the acquisition of the northern half?
Clearly we do not have any interest in the north half and only what is on the south and only what is shown in orange on the map and what is mostly covered by the conservation easement.
How many fulltime staff do you have on the peninsula?
: We have about 95 fulltime, permanent staff in the park total, both there and here. We have about 160 seasonals and, literally, several thousand volunteers. The staff will grow over here, particularly the seasonal staff because of the campground. And we are hiring twelve maintenance, as well as campground rangers and so forth.
What do you expect when you are fully staffed? How many people will be on Schoodic?
There are three six-month seasonal maintenance positions; one subject to furlough, eight one-month seasonal positions; and four in fees, which are all seasonal, so totaled in all, eight.
And we have hired a new permanent ranger for here.
Yes, Bill is retiring.
There are two things I wanted to mention. The first, does the Commission support, in general concept, the idea of the transfer of land from the National Park Foundation to Acadia National Park, when that might be able to happen and how it might be able to happen? Just the general direction of, and working towards that, in a collaborative way. If the Commission supports that general idea for the reasons that have been heard today, then we might consider a general resolution to that effect.
In general, I agree with what you are saying. I do believe if we are going to have a general resolution, then we need to say something about how this is going to get accomplished. One of the things, in our discussion of, and I have always been for some minor tweaking of the boundary, which I don’t think anyone would think of this as a minor tweak, is that it is a matter of amending the boundary legislation. And I would hope that we are not going to end run that out of convenience. That opens up the whole thing of…..well, who wants to open up boundary legislation?
I think the basic benefit here would be for the towns of Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor and the surrounding area. It would be for enlargement of the green area of the map to represent the national park, which would be attractive and provide the economic benefits that, actually, much of the park’s efforts on Schoodic have been intended to provide. It wouldn’t make any other difference, but that would be the helpful thing. The caution, of course, the caveat is exactly what you said, maintaining credibility in the boundary legislation and in past statements of the park. That is the balance.
Is the existing Schoodic Peninsular from the navy base included in the Acadia boundary? How did that get in?
This already is. It became part of the park very early in the park’s history. It was part of the 1986 legislation.
The navy base came after that, didn’t it?
The navy base, itself, has a more complicated history.
: So there were some serious battles over Acadia boundaries.
There were. The current situation is a special opportunity and, if we decide today that such discussions should continue, the method the lawyers suggest must have integrity. That is really what we are talking about.
: Excuse me, I am sure you said this but I just want to be clear. My understanding is the National Park Foundation was created for things like this; like to hold land temporarily and then donate it to the park or similar things. So their holding the land is just a short term prospect by design. Yes?
That is their preference, for sure.
They don’t really manage land. That is not what they do. They don’t hold land long term, right? So Steve, in terms of asking, do we know how we are going to do this? You are asking for a broader sense of we need to figure out how to do this, but it’s the intent, or this group’s support of motion, of moving it to the park sometime in the future?
What is the alternative?
Continuing the process of working toward that, that’s all. If the Commission thought this was a bad idea and wanted to advise not to do it now is the time to say so. I don’t have the sense that that’s the feeling nor do I have the sense that the answer to how this should be done is at this time available. The alternative is to leave it alone and nothing happens and the National Park Foundation manages it.
Steve, I think, actually, it will remain with whoever owns it today. The park has the right to manage that piece of property today. It’s just that you can’t paint it green. I understand that that is a valuable part.
I’m not opposed to including it in the boundary as long as you are talking just that one part.
I would love for us to go on and have some general resolution, lightly worded, in effect to support the movement from the Foundation to the National Park Service. Yes, this is a motion.
A motion has been made for a resolution, in general, lightly worded, where we express cautious support to move forward. Let us second and pass that motion. All who are in favor of me making those words? Thank you. I will put something together.
Motion made by Katherine Heidinger; seconded; and ‘all approved’ to create a resolution.
RESOLUTION, as written (draft)
: Acadia National Park Advisory Commission supports in concept the transfer of Schoodic Woods from the National Park Foundation to the National Park Service and encourages collaborative efforts to expedite it.
RESOLUTION, as read and approved: Acadia National Park Advisory Commission supports the concept of transferring Schoodic Woods from the National Park Foundation to Acadia National Park and looks forward to how that might be expedited.
Resolution as read accepted by Dexter Lee; seconded by Paul Richardson; all approved; No opposed.
Stephen Smith, Public:
In the Acadia National Park master plan of legislation, were there boundaries set at Schoodic? How can you go beyond above and beyond the boundaries?
That is what’s to be determined and we have not specified that. Right now the land is managed by Acadia National Park to Acadia National Park’s standards but it’s owned by the National Park Foundation. They would like to transfer it to Acadia National Park, in a way that does not invalidate or compromise the boundary legislation. If that can be accomplished great, if not, that is ok to. This is just a singular opportunity and the Town Managers appear to be in favor of it. And, ultimately, it can always be deferred to an act of Congress. That may not be the speediest way of doing it, but it could do it.
Stephen Smith, Public:
It seems to go against the grain of the original legislation on the permanent boundaries of the park.
– Sheridan Steele
It is clear the park visitation continues to go up. I am now saying that popularity is the single biggest challenge facing Acadia. We have had a number of occurrences this year where we had to close the road to the top of Cadillac because of the amount of cars on the road. It was producing gridlock and people were turning around in the middle of the road and creating chaos. Nobody enjoys that kind of park or parking experience. We have some real challenges and we hope to address those in this transportation planning process we have underway now. Keith is going to make a presentation on that process and then seek some input from the Commission but would you rather we do that in a few minutes and let me complete my report? Where would you like that on the agenda?
I think, in general, it is better to stick with themes. So I think it would be better if he did it now.
Transportation Plan – Presented by Keith Johnston, Chief of Facilities and Maintenance
Acadia is undertaking its first phase of the transportation effort which included public scoping. We held two meetings on Schoodic Peninsular and two meetings on Mt. Desert Island to talk with folks about their concerns with the issues facing transportation in the park. And over here, about conservation measures necessary to protect the experience and going forward on the Schoodic Peninsular. We are in the beginning throes of awarding the second phase which is to determine the desired conditions: How do we want these spaces and places to be in the future? Those workshops and planning sessions will begin in October and continue into the fall.
To go back a little bit to the first phase, we asked the public to give us their comments on five questions:
1) What parts of the Acadia experience do you value the most?
2) What transportation-related issues interfere with your enjoyment of the park?
3) What elements of the transportation system do you like and what is working for you?
4) What transportation-related improvements you think the park needs to implement and Why?
5) What else would you share with us about your experience related to transportation in the park?
These public sessions were informal settings. We also took tables and placards and went out into the public spaces because, without the public meetings, it was actually hard to reach the visitor who was there for a day or on vacation. We went to Sand Beach, Jordon Pond, Acadia Mountain parking lot, to name a few. We tried to talk with folks. I was talking with folks at Sand Beach and asked, “How was your parking experience?” They said, “Fine, I found an open spot.” The irony being I only found people who found open spots. I didn’t find people who had to drive 2 ½ miles past Thunder Hole without finding a parking spot to talk with. But, the thought was if you wanted to weigh in on any of the questions, we would be happy to take your comments. If Mike or Sheridan would want to do that at this point there is another option which is a comment card to complete and submit by mailing to Acadia National Park with your thoughts on the process. If you have something that jumps right out at you now and you want us to take it down, we can. If not, please write it down. It is important we hear what you have to say, and how it would impact how we move forward.
Keith, your comment card says submit by August 3rd .
We had volunteers cross off hundreds of these. September 16 is the new deadline. They can be mailed in and they can, also, be sent by email and a website is also available (use acronym PEPC). They can be sent to Sheridan or Mike. We printed these when we expected our notice to be printed in the Federal Register and that did not happen.
We are working with multiple partners. We are working with Transportation Planners at the Denver Service Center, transportation planners who work across the agency, and a company in New England, VHB, who works on transportation planning efforts, not only on the Explorer system but in other metropolitan areas.
If you get it in a week from today, we are not going to ignore it. That goes for anyone in the audience.
This is a very complex issue and we want as much public import as we can get. We truly are open-minded on this and kind of desperately need some good ideas. So help us out.
We did discuss some of these issues in the Park Committee when we were meeting this morning. I am confident that, as this plan develops, it is going to take time and the Commission will have a number of occasions to hear where the plan is at and to give input. But this is a good starting point.
Visitation/Car-Free Mornings – Stuart West, Chief Ranger
The average, I think, was a 9% increase in visitation this year over last year. Some parks in the system experienced a 25% increase in visitation this year. We are not sure if it is due to the one hundred anniversary of the park service or not. The trends will be much higher in the future. This could also be due to lower fuel prices and good weather.
Coming up on September 26th, we will hold our 2 nd car-free morning. The first car-free morning was held on May 16th. This one will be a little bit different. For the first one the gates were locked and no vehicles were permitted. We allowed people on foot or bicycles to access the park. On this 2nd car-free morning, we will allow the Island Explorer, Oli’s Trolley, and Acadia National Park Tours as concessioners, since some people will not be able to get around the park. So it will be same as it was in the spring but we will allow buses. Friends of Acadia volunteers will help us out at specific gates to help buses in and out of the park and keep regular travel out. We will see how this works. Friends of Acadia did a Survey Monkey on their website last year. This time, there will be questions related to the buses in the system, as well. We are trying to get a feel for what works and what does not work. Any questions?
Mark Berry, President/CEO, Schoodic Institute:
Are there any plans to try that on Schoodic?
No, I think, for right now, we are going to stay with MDI. We are managing this peninsula a little different. We are prohibiting RVs. It is already closed to buses, except the ones going to the campus. Fundamentally, we are going to see how MDI works first before we start messing with it.
Saturday, September 26 is free entry to the park all day as it is National Public Lands Day. We will close the gates at midnight, the night before. We will open them at noon on the 26th .
Kind of related to that too, is that our desire, with the changes over here at Schoodic, is to protect the quality of the experience that is here now. We know the number of users will go up but we would like to manage that in such a way that we encourage people to leave their automobiles in the day use parking lot or come by ferry or boat to Schoodic. So we would like to get people onto bicycles, walking or onto the Island Explorer and leave their cars on the other side or in the day use parking lot. And of course, RVs too, since they are prohibited, would stay in the day use parking lot. We realize if we are successful in this, we are going to have to improve the bus service at Schoodic. This year, we have already gone from one hour intervals to thirty minute intervals once the campground opened. We are probably going to have to do more than that in the years ahead.
Who keeps statistics on the numbers of people riding the Island Explorer?
Downeast Transportation, which runs the system, keeps the statistics and they have an excellent way of doing it. They have electronic counters. Their numbers are very accurate.
Are they up considerably?
They are. The one thing we don’t know and haven’t been able to solve is how many people on the buses are actually park visitors, because they go through the park and serve the community. So we don’t actually count those in our visitation. If you did count those, or even half of them, 500,000 was the number of riders last year and half of them would add another quarter of a million to our visitation numbers.
Government Shut Down – Sheridan Steele, Superintendent
You have read the papers, like I have, and they are already talking about a potential government shut down. We know the last time that happened at Acadia, it was a disaster here locally. The fiscal year ends at the end of September and there needs to be either a continuing resolution or a budget passed by then. I personally hope it is all posturing over various other issues and, in the end, they won’t cause another shut down. But you just never know. I didn’t think they would cause the last one.
Sheridan Steele, Superintendent Stuart mentioned Centennial a little bit earlier. That is really taking on a life of its own. Friends of Acadia and other partners are working hard on that. David MacDonald, FOA, will speak on the Centennial now.
David MacDonald, President, FOA -
Friends of Acadia has been playing the role as facilitator in a community-wide interest in the park for the centennial next year. I want to say from the getgo, the intent is not to bring more visitors but to deepen people’s understanding and appreciation of what the park is all about. We are really pleased that a number of you are in this room; schools, museums, art galleries, and businesses. We have about 180 different partners around the community, which are signed on to help either monetarily or in planning events. So it is a vision as a year-round celebration. Again, we are not trying to focus on the fall; we are trying to build out the shoulder seasons. If someone is coming to the area in February, we hope there is something to help celebrate the centennial. The best way to get up to speed on what is going on is to check the website which was created, www.acadiacentennial2016.org
. There are a great amount of resources on the website. We will begin to build a calendar on the website and there is information on all the different partners and the communities, what is going on, and information on the park system. From the start, under Sheridan’s suggestion, we did not weight or link this too tightly to the park service, nationally, and the national centennial. This is intended to be a pretty local, decentralized, Acadia specific, celebration. We hope it’s not just a celebration but it helps the park, whether with transportation issues, youth engagement, or your name it. We think the centennial is an opportunity to get Congress to pay attention to some of these funding issues and get communities and businesses, also, tied in to be supporting the park and its future. So check out the website and any number of community partners and businesses around Schoodic Peninsular, MDI, Deer Isles area, Ellsworth, Isle au Haut. Folks are really interested across the region and across the state, which is nice.
David mentioned funding issues and I am hopeful that something nationally might happen in Congress that will help all national parks because our budget continues to decline slightly each year and the buying power goes down even more than that. Our trend is actually very negative and as visitation grows and the demands go along with that, whether its visitor center hours or emergency services or what have you. It is more and more difficult for us to have enough staff to deal with those things if we don’t have adequate funding.
Jackie asked me to introduce the idea of something related to personnel at the park.
Yes, this was presented at the park use committee meeting and I am now seeking the Commission’s support. Here at Schoodic, Ranger Bill Weidner, who is present in the room, is retiring. We would like to present, from the full commission, a resolution of gratitude. I will read the following statement for the record, if you so approve. (See Resolution [Attachment 1], as read and entered into record).
September 14, 2015
The Acadia National Park Advisory Commission recognizes Bill Weidner for his many years of dedication to the National Park Service. Bill's summers, from 1978 until 1981, were spent at Schoodic as an Acadia National Park Ranger. From fall of 1981 to 1986, he worked for Naval Security Group Activity Winter Harbor, returning to Acadia National Park Schoodic site as Park Ranger in 1992. Other than a few months in 1994, he's been a Schoodic ANP Ranger ever since.
For the thousands of military personnel and their families who lived on the Peninsula, "Ranger Bill" was the face of Acadia National Park. And Bill is quick to praise the Navy for, as he says, "making me look better than I was." But the truth is Bill's relationships with the Clinic and its medical personnel, the EMTs at the fire station, the masters at arms, even the public works crews who were called on to open roads when extreme tides left them covered with rocks, were all relationships which allowed visitors to Schoodic to have safe, memorable visits. Or, if a visitor was in dire straits, he would bring them resources seldom found in the most remote national park areas. At this year's gathering of former NSGA WH military and civilians, Bill received high praise from a former commanding officer who is now a four star Admiral at the helm of the National Security Agency.
Serving under five different Park Superintendents, Bill watched hundreds of children in our community grow up while exploring Schoodic, and relieved the anxiety of countless visitors who had become separated from friends/family, been injured or required some other immediate attention. Schoodic, without Bill Weidner will be a different experience, though we hope his knowledge of the Peninsula and his desire for visitors to have great memories of Schoodic will be passed on to future Park Rangers.
The Commission extends this Resolution of Gratitude to Bill upon his retirement from the National Park Service and wishes him fair winds and following seas.
Steve Katona -
Thank you, Jackie. And thank you, Bill. It has been entered into the minutes.
Otter Creek – Becky Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management
I would like to update you on issues at Otter Creek. From time to time, I have told you about our efforts to work with community down there, particularly focused on the inholding of the Otter Creek Aid Societies’ fish house. I want to give you an update on the progress we have made on talking with the Aid Society on mutual sharing of the responsibility and use in the cove. A couple of things have been going on. One is we have completed a connector trail which goes from the bottom of Grover Avenue down to the Old Quarry Road Trail. It has been completed but it has not been signed yet. We have confirmed that with Paul last week. He said, “I’m still getting lost down there”. So there will be signs put up at the park boundary of the trail to say that it is a community trail. It is one of the connectors that FOA has really been supporting in the park, to bring community into the park and connect to the wonderful trail the park created through the hiking trails team, which goes up to the Blackwoods Campground, across to the causeway and around to the other side.
The second thing that has been done within the past year is the wayside exhibit, created by Interpretation, up at the Fabbri pullout. If you stand and look out over the causeway in the cove, the exhibit gives you the history of Otter Creek and Otter Cove and it is based on the wonderful community history project that was commissioned by the park service and completed. It has an excellent history of the cove, the creek and the community there.
A couple of other things are going on. We have talked with the Aids society about formulizing a trail that will take people down to the fish house because, apparently, it is not an easy access. That is something we can work on together – to create and formulize better access to the fish house in Otter Cove.
Finally, a request came through to put in a waterline to add water to the fish house. We have water at Blackwoods. That is still under discussion but one question was what would be the code enforcement issue on bringing in water and disposing of gray water there. Keith, do you have any issues or questions? It is probably not something we can easily do. So those are the things currently going on at Otter Creek. Any questions or comments?
Stephen Smith, Public:
If it’s not easy to do, what would be the difficulty?
Determining what the permitting process would be for a right-a-way for a waterline for an organization to cross park land.
Would you need a permit?
In just the terms of the infrastructure of how to get the water down there that is one of the questions.
Wouldn’t you have to go under the road?
Steven Smith, Public:
Yes, through a culvert. Pretty easy, actually. It is about 600 feet from the line to the fish house.
I don’t have a clue what it would take to get water across park land and down there.
First, we would have to talk to the code enforcement officer and see, even about gray water. I have a feeling even for gray water, you will need some kind of a system and there is not any room on the property for that.
They don’t normally permit for gray water.
: Basically, Stevie, what you want is to get running water down ……
Stephen Smith, Public:
… for health and safety, yes, and we haven’t discussed it since then and we understand the park service has a filtering system of peat moss on Cadillac for their gray water. And we are thinking about, possibly, doing the same thing on a smaller scale.
The problem, as you know Steven, is the property boundary on that inholding is very, very small. I think that is something we should have a side meeting with the Aid Society to discuss and look at your plans for that.
Stephen Smith, Public:
That’s a good idea.
So what we are looking at are two issues. One, how to get water down there and if that is legally possible and the second one, if the water did get there, what would happen to the discharged gray water and what are the restrictions or permissions needed for that. Those two things would have to be solved but you’re willing to continue looking into that, I believe?
We can continue to discuss it and try to understand exactly what the needs are and what the challenges are.
Stephen Smith, Public:
Good. The other thing is the Quarry Trail. We discussed that at a meeting for the park service.
Yes, last year.
Stephen Smith, Public:
I informed everyone that I had an agreement with the federal judge to use that roadway to take wood down to my fish house. It’s another fish house by the way. And after the park got finished, I went down there and half of the road was dug right out completely so it can’t be used. I would like you to look into that please.
I can’t even speak to the lands issue there.
Emily Seger-Pagen, Land Resource Specialist:
I have researched this. I researched it and talked to Len Bobinchock last year or a couple of years ago, if we are talking about the same issue. And I don’t have anything in our records that that was granted. So if you have something on record, let’s talk.
Stephen Smith, Public:
I don’t know if I have but it was in federal court. It’s in federal court records up there.
It is not in any of the National Park Service files or any of our lands records Stephen.
Stephen Smith, Public:
I’ll try to dig it up.
Becky Cole-Will and Steve Katona :
And you know Emily Pagan, right? She is in charge of the lands, easements, and all those kind of things.
Stephen Smith, Public:
She’ll be glad to help, if there is help to be had.
Stephen Smith, Public:
Thank you and thanks, Becky.
– Abe Rushing is going to give a brief report on Science and Education Activities.
Research Learning Center Workshop Report – Abe Miller-Rushing, Science Coordinator
Schoodic Education and Research Center is one of eighteen research learning centers throughout the national park system. Those eighteen centers, as well as the Associate Directors for Natural Resource Science and Stewardship and Interpretation and any additional volunteers got together for a strategy meeting last month. The research learning centers were created to address the challenge of supporting science, connecting it with management and communicating it throughout the park service. At that strategy meeting, we agreed on a vision. The research learning center has been trying to create and help the national parks to become living laboratories, science story tellers and exemplars to using science to manage resources, preserve, and enrich visitor and community experiences. We do this through promoting a research learning center for science, connecting it to Resource Management, improving science literacy and adopting and evaluating as we go. The bottom line of the strategy meeting was the research learning centers embedded in national parks have been doing, over the past ten years, focusing mainly on the parks they are in. Right now, the vision is to expand influence and try to change the culture of the park service as a whole. The next step in this is to commit to five flagship projects that are going to be happening. They are very consistent with things that will arise with what has started here at Schoodic. They are:
- Science Communication
- National Internship Fellows
- A Nationally Coordinated Citizen Science Project
- Projects that integrate and visualize data from sciences going on in national parks
- Provide professional development and improve the delivery of Citizen Science, not only for the park service, but for the community more broadly.
We have been focusing on Schoodic Education and Research here, locally, but over the next several years we will be increasing our connections as a network broadly throughout the park service and we will be getting more help from Washington to do that. Questions?