Acadia Advisory Commission September 2019

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING

Schoodic Institute –Moore Auditorium
Winter Harbor, Maine
September 09, 2019 1:00 p.m.

ATTENDANCE:
Fred Ehrlenbach, Chair
Jacqueline Johnston, Vice Chair
Ben Worcester, Member
Carolyn Gothard, Member
Katherine Heidinger, Secretary
Howie Motenko, Member
Ken Cline, Member
G. Bruce Wiersma, Member
Matt Horton, Member
Dexter Lee, Member
Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, ANP
Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent, ANP
Rebecca Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management, ANP
John Kelly, Management Assistant, ANP
Stuart West, Chief Ranger
Keith Johnston, Chief of Facility Management, ANP
Laura Cohen, Chief of Interpretation & Education, ANP
Adam Gibson, Social Scientist, ANP
David MacDonald, President & CEO, Friends of Acadia
Nick Fisicelli, Acting President & CEO, Schoodic Institute
Members of the Public
News Media

ABSENT MEMBERS: Ken Smith, Stephen Shea

OPENING REMARKS


The Commission Chair called the meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, Monday, September 9th, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to order.

APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

No motion was made.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

A motion was made by Ken Cline to accept the minutes of the Advisory Meeting of June 3rd, 2019; seconded by Ben Worcester; all approved; no opposed. Motion carries.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT – Kevin Schneider, Superintendent


Park Status Update – Kevin Schneider

Recognition – We would like to recognize Jim Willis, Chief of Police, and other members of the police department, and Matt Bartlett, Fire Chief, along with other members of his team, of Bar Harbor, who helped us out with the fatal car accident in the park a couple of weeks ago. We really appreciate that assistance.

Early this year we had a fire here at Schoodic Woods Campground and I would like to recognize Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro Fire Departments for responding, along with anyone else who assisted with that fire.

Staff Changes at Acadia:

Stuart West will be leaving to take a position as Superintendent overseeing Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site and Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in Colorado and Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico. This will be his last ANP Advisory Commission meeting. He leaves the end of September.
Therese Picard will be Acting Chief Ranger.
Laura Cohen is the new Chief of Interpretation and Education
Jesse Wheeler is the new Resoure Management Vegetative Specialist
Alan Farnsworth, Engineering Equipment Supervisor/Roads Foreman, is retiring the end of October.
Dwayne Gruver is the new Law Enforcement Ranger at Schoodic
Nicole Gruver is the new Law Enforcement Ranger at Acadia on MDI
Nick Fisicelli will be Interim President & CEO at Schoodic Institute after Don Kent stepped down as President and CEO.

Visitation:

It has been a strong visitation year to date. We are down 3% but believe it is due to a wet spring. We don’t have the figures for August yet but it seemed like August was a strong month. The Island Explorer had their all-time high with 230,000 passengers for the month of August. The actual numbers will be coming in.

e-Bikes:

The Department of the Interior issued new rules on e-bikes. We have 30 days to change the park’s superintendent’s compendium according to this policy to authorize e-bikes. The policy allows us to put further restrictions or limitations on them, if we need to, based on safety or natural resource considerations or other management objectives. We are reviewing that policy and looking internally and we will, within 30 days of the end of this month, update our superintendent’s compendium, as needed, to address the questions of e-bikes on the carriage roads of Acadia, private bike trails at Schoodic, and other roads where we allow bikes, as well.
Per discussion and questions of the ANP Advisory Commission, the following information was added.

We have received a lot of emails and calls on both sides and there has been active social media discussion on the use of e-bikes. The policy does suggest we look at public feedback in a 30-day time period, we are mindful of the comments and the commission’s positions. We are looking at what the original intention (of the agreement with the Rockefellers and the obligations of the carriage roads not being motorized) of those donations were for when the Carriage Roads were developed, but they definitely were built to be non-motorized in places.
There are three classes of e-bikes:
Class 1 - Peddle Assist, up to 20 mph
Class 2 – Use of throttle, no peddle assist, up to 20 mph
Class 3 – Peddle Assist, up to 28 mph
Maine Legislature enacted a law that regulates various classes of e-bikes and provides guidance to municipalities. One of those laws is that they are to be labeled by October 1st if sold within the state. Presently, all e-bikes are allowed on all motorized roads

Maintenance Project (Keith Johnston):

We have finished a pre-design for the park headquarters maintenance and admin buildings. We are moving into the schematic design process
Reconstruction of the Eagle Lake Carriage Roads; 7 miles stretch to be restored to its original drainages and culverts, and get the crown restored. The construction team will use the Liscomb Pit area as temporary access.
Schoodic – 1945 Power line to be rebuilt
Schoodic – Design process for the wastewater system
The Fraser Creek pier was completed last week

Transportation Plan – Kevin Schneider


We are in the process of development of concessions contracts for bus tours. We expect to have the prospectus released in early 2020, which will provide opportunity the private sector to bid on the contracts. We expect them to be awarded by the end of the year with the first season of operation in 2021. We are looking to require or incentivize cleaner vehicles, such as propane, electric or hybrid technology to improve emissions. We anticipate multiple bus contracts for different types of businesses.

We are looking at the redevelopment of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and are requesting funding for preliminary design to redevelop Hulls Cove. The plan is to create larger parking and create a Park & Ride and build a new Visitor Center.

The Gateway Center will be a regional transportation hub with an orientation to the park and the surrounding area. We have been in conversations with Maine Department of Transportation and the Office of Tourism about developing the Gateway Center. There is a lot of excitement about that project with those partners. It is an opportunity to expand the Island Explorer service and provide another Park & Ride.

We are still evaluating parking reservations at Hulls Cove, Jordan Pond, and Cadillac Mountain from a technology and operational standpoint. We are hopeful to be on-target by 2021 for instituting the system. There is the question on what could be done in-house or outsourced; there are the reservations, the technology in the field to implement it, and human presence in the field, as well.

The Island Explorer may expand service. The FOA has a funded a contract to look at the future Island Explorer as far as routes, additional service, etc. We would like to work with the towns and communities as we move forward with this.

Wildwood Stables – Kevin Schneider


The concessions prospectus for Wildwood Stables, which provides horse drawn carriage rides, is due to be out this coming fall. It will be a ten-year contract and provide an opportunity for the private sector to bid on that contract.

Acadia Workforce Housing Initiative – Kevin Schneider


We are still interested in public/private partnership to allow for workforce housing in Acadia. We have evaluated this concept for quite some time. There are a lot of questions we are trying to navigate and work through the Solicitor’s office. There has been some interest locally in a 50 acre parcel, previously identified to be the site of a transfer station. Anything other than a transfer station would require an act of Congress. It could be an interesting idea to have a public/private partnership for housing on that site.

Bass Harbor Head Light Acquisition – John Kelly

The Coast Guard is planning for a transfer near the end of October. The Environment Site Assessment has been completed. The property is clean with some lead paint and asbestos, as in all old buildings. The estimated cost is $75,000 to remediate. We are ready to accept the property. We are working on the Draft Historic Structure Report, a baseline study on the history of the property and how these structures support the integrity of the property. Once completed, we should have a good understanding of how we can rehabilitate and use the property. We will be working through the winter on parking and how the Island Explorer could best serve the Bass Harbor Head Light.

OLD BUSINESS


Status of Appointments to the Advisory Commission –Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent

The process is still in Washington awaiting the Secretary of the Interior’s selections. Washington was made aware there has been a change in the administration at the State of Maine’s Governor’s office since the original nominations were submitted. The Washington office reached out to us to contact Governor Mills’ office for her additional nominations to the ANP Advisory Commission, which she did. The names were submitted to Washington. We have three nominations for Mt. Desert with one position, five nominations for the State of Maine for three positions, and one nomination for DOI Member at Large for one position. The nominations will be selected at the Secretary’s discretion.

Bylaws – Ken Cline


We have been researching the process for electing officers for the Advisory Commission. We are finding limited information. If you have received any information you, please send it to the commission members. We will come back and talk about it again at the next meeting in February.

NEW BUSINESS


2020 Meeting dates for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission:
February 3, 2020
June 1, 2020
September 14, 2020
The September meeting will be held at Schoodic Institute, Winter Harbor, ME. The remaining two meetings will be held at park headquarters, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

A motion was made by Callie Gothard to accept the meeting dates as stated, seconded by Ben Worcester, all accepted, no oppose. Motion carries.

Fred Ehrlenbach requested a tour of the (newly renovated, completed) Hull’s Cove Visitor Center on June 1st, 11:00 a.m., prior to the ANP Advisory Commission public meeting.

REPORTS


Lands Committee – No Report

Science & Education Committee – Bruce Weirsma

We were given a tour of the Education & Research programs/facilities at Schoodic today. I want to compliment and thank Kate Petrie, Abe Miller-Rushing, Becky Cole-Will, and Nick Fisichelli for a wonderful tour and descriptions of their programs. They present a very broad scope and detailed information on the environment in a manner that is fun for the students. They have very creative techniques and much needed research for the park. Not only to protect what you have, but there are a lot of environmental changes that are occurring, which are going to affect the parks. They are looking at ways to manage change. It was a really good tour and my compliments.

Park Use Committee – Jackie Johnston


The Park Use Committee did not meet but would like to request to meet just prior to the February meeting to talk about visitor management and touch on the proposed reservation system.

History Committee – No Report

SCHOODIC INSTITUTE UPDATE – Nicholas Fisicelli, Acting President & CEO


Our mission, our work, with Acadia National Park is ongoing with no big changes. We continue to strive to be a good partner with Acadia in both Science and Education. We are celebrating 25 years of migration through our Hawk Watch program, with 250 volunteer hours on Acadia counting hawks as they migrate south. They documented different types of hawks and the timing of their migration.

Sarah Hooper is our new Education Specialist at Schoodic. Previously she was a middle school and high school science teacher and before that, she was a Wildlife Biologist with BLM. She will be helping us increase our capacity, especially in education and will be working with Laura and the Acadia staff on the Schoodic Education Adventure; other education happening here, for example the Community Shell Fish Investigative Project, which is engaging high school and middle school students in understanding soft shell clam recruitments; students helping to learn what is happening to clams and mortality due to green crabs and other stressors; trying to figure out where to grow clams along the coast within the local towns. Sarah brings a lot of experience with her.

The Acadia Science Symposium is scheduled for October 24th.

And last, the 2nd Century Stewardship requests for proposals for scholarships is open for next year’s fellowships.

FRIENDS OF ACADIA – David MacDonald, President & CEO


David gave an update on the progress and numbers of seasonals, interns and fellows under Friends of Acadia worked for Acadia National Park this year; which totaled approximately 40-45 folks. Seasonally, this made a tremendous difference. This had a dual purpose of helping Kevin and his team out, while also providing life changing experiences.

Some of our programs included Summit Stewards, who patrol the top of Cadillac and other mountains of the park, our stewardship staff who organizes the volunteer program, rec techs who monitor public use, and 16 local teens worked under the YCC program on trails. Plus we had a crew of 5-6 on the Acadia Digital Media Team. We also had 6 teachers here this season from around the country, the Acadia Teacher Fellows. They come and work as a team alongside park rangers, researchers, educators, and they work to develop a curriculum to take back to their classrooms in the fall. It is a way of bring national parks into the classroom.

We also offer a grant that support Schoodic Education Adventure, 2-3 days programs for students and we have a transportation scholarship where Friend of Acadia gives grants to the public school systems to allow kids to get to the park for one-day field trips.

Friends of Acadia will again be making a grant to Schoodic Institute, about $50,000, in partnership with LLBean, to help subsidize the Education program which covered additional staff, materials, and expenses. This year they were able to have more of an outdoor adventure. Kudos to Kate, Laura and the team for a wonderful program that reached over 600 students last year,

We are making grants to park organizations for underserved youth to get a park experience. This year, we sponsored youths from Bridgeport, CT, and Cleveland, OH. None of these students had been to a national park before. These are important opportunities. It benefits, not only the students, but the parks as well. A volunteer reported the students were blown away at the number of visitors who would stop and thank them for their work and that was a new experience for them. They said doing work that mattered to other people was very powerful. Some even said they wanted to come back and work for Acadia.

PUBLIC COMMENT


Doug Heden, Bar Harbor – Regarding the dormitory housing, has the park worked with the city of Bar Harbor? How much does the planning Commission know about your plan? Can you expand on your interaction with Bar Harbor. What is the planned capacity, volume, vision?

Kevin Schneider – We are looking at Harden farms, which has existing employee housing with 8 beds. It was built in the early 1960’s with two structures. We held a site visit for interested parties. It is on 5 developable acres to develop. It is on federal land but the park service does not have the funding to build housing. There are a lot of unknowns. Housing on the site could support FOA seasonals, Island Explorer bus drivers, and NPS seasonal staff. There is a high demand for housing.

Doug Heden, Bar Harbor –There was a study done on the George Dorr property in Compass Harbor and its historical significance. I thought there was going to be a presentation but I never saw one. I challenge the commission to keep the pressure on the park to clean it up, clean up the foundation, and maybe do something more for local residents to swim or just to make it more of a memorial to George Dorr? Would it be the Park Use Committee that would address that?

Jackie Johnston – we could tag it onto our committee meeting in February.

CLOSING COMMENTS


Given no further public comments, the Commission Chair made closing comments. On behalf of the Commission, thank you Stuart West, for your service to Acadia National Park. Please remember to send any suggestions for agenda items for the February 03, 2020, meeting to Fred Ehrlenbach.

ADJOURNMENT


The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 03rd, 2020, 1:00 P.M. at Park Headquarters, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine, as published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.

Motion was made by Jackie Johnston to adjourn, seconded by Ken Cline, and approved by all, no opposed.



Meeting adjourned at 2:07 pm
Minutes Submitted by Kathy Flanders

Last updated: November 18, 2020

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