Acadia Advisory Committee June 2021

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING

Meeting Platform: WebEx June 07, 2021 1:00 p.m.

ATTENDANCE:

Fred Ehrlenbach, Chair
Jacqueline Johnston, Vice Chair
Ben Worcester, Member
Carolyn Gothard, Member
Howie Motenko, Member
Ken Cline, Member
Dexter Lee, Member
Ken Smith, Member
Kendall Davis, Member
Stephen Shea, Member
G. Bruce Wiersma, Member
Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, ANP
Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent, ANP
Rebecca Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management, ANP
John Kelly, Management Assistant, ANP
Therese Picard, Chief Ranger, ANP
Keith Johnston, Chief of Facility Management, ANP
Laura Cohen, Chief of Visitor Experience & Education
Kevin Langley, Chief of Administration, ANP
David MacDonald, President & CEO, Friends of Acadia
Nick Fisicelli, President & CEO, Schoodic Institute
Chris Rector, Regional Rep, Senator King
Carol Woodcock, Regional Rep, Senator Collins
Members of the Public
Staff Members of ANP
News Media

ABSENT MEMBERS:

Katherine Heidinger, Secretary
Matt Horton, Member

OPENING REMARKS

The Commission Chair called the meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, Monday, June 7, 2021, 1:00 p.m. to order.

APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

A motion was made to accept the agenda for the June 7, 2021, meeting; seconded and all approved as is, no opposed. Motion carries.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

A motion was made by Ken Smith to accept the minutes of February 01, 2021 [with one correctionJackie Johnstone to Jackie Johnston]. It was seconded by Jackie Johnston. All approved – no opposed.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT – Kevin Schneider, Superintendent

Welcome Hopefully this will be our last meeting remotely, thanks for bearing with us. I know the web-ex format is a little clunky… · It is going to be a very busy summer. We saw it Memorial Day – every parking space was full despite having rainy cold weather. MEDOT traffic data from the Trenton Bridge shows volume up about 6% from Memorial Day 2019. People are more confident as they get vaccinated; lots of pent-up demand. Visitation for the year, January through April, was up about 74% from 2019 levels Park Operations with COVID (M. Madell):
  • Gave an update on park operations with COVID
    • Campgrounds are at a limited capacity, mainly due to hiring, construction, and cleaning staff. We are looking to get back to 100%.
    • The Visitor Use Assistant (VUA) staffing is operational and going well. Thompson Island and the Village Green will not be staffed this year, the Chamber is a third-party seller for park passes. Island Explorer Update (J. Kelly)
    • The Island Explorer (I.E.) buses did not operate in 2020 due to the pandemic. Planning for 2021 operations began six months ago based on CDC guidance at the time.
    • Routes and schedules were developed that would address the greatest demand while responding to those guidelines.
    • In addition to requiring masks, the social distancing requirement limited bus capacity to roughly 12 passengers compared to 43 (30 seated /13 standing)
    • To compensate for this limitation, the Island Explorer buses will have fewer routes with more buses and shorter headways.
    • Reviewed routes for 2021.
    • As Mike discussed, CDC guidelines are changing rapidly. Last week, Down East Transportation (DTI) received new guidance that will allow 30 passengers per bus.
    • With this new information, the park asked DTI to review the original plans to include Blackwoods Campground and the motels and campgrounds on Route 3 in close proximity to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center (HCVC) parking lot to ease the demand for parking there.
    • DTI will increase the headways on the Visitor Center #2, Jordan Pond #5, and Loop Road #4 routes from every 10 minutes to every 15 minutes to free up 3 buses that will allow hourly service to Blackwood Campground and 30-minute service on Route 3.
    • At the same time, DTI remains challenged because it is retaining fewer drivers than originally hired this year - down from 100 to 83 - and this is before the season has started. There are continued issues with addressing the pandemic while we have not reached heard immunity, including driver safety and training.
    • Communicate changes through printed flyers, website, and social media. A new schedule will be printed but will not be available until the second week of July at the earliest.
    • West side service - no proposal submitted to DTI as of today; no capacity and lack of trained drivers this year; return to normal service in 2022; consider changes with town and chamber input this fall.
    • Paul Murphy – We are adding the shortest routes for the greatest amount of service. Brown Mountain and Jordan Pond routes needs 13 buses, and we don’t have them. Southwest Harbor is one of the most popular routes and we are down by 30%. Reservation System (J. Kelly) John shared a slide presentation. Some highlights included were,
    • Reservations, Costs, Parking, Website, Purchasing Park Passes
    • John addressed the increased reservation charge
    • Information is available on Rec.gov, as well as through the media, web platforms, rack cards, area Chambers and 7 state visitor centers
    • Signs have been installed as far out as Dedham (heading toward Bangor)
    • There are 6 signs strategically placed in the park
    • The Cadillac Summit Road entrance has been reconfigured
    • You can hike or bike without a reservation
    • Shuttles/Taxis can enter without a commercial use authorization or reservation; a commercial entrance fee is required.
    • There is no illegal parking
    • Sales were 55% to park on Cadillac Summit; 90% on Saturday and Sunday Bass Harbor Head Light (J. Kelly) We are still in the planning stages for the use of the buildings as well as vehicle access and transportation plan, access, parking, and traffic issues. We are developing a pre-planning report and working with the Island Explorer. Acadia Gateway Center (K. Schneider) Not too much to update on; state has all the funding except the NPS’ $4 million contribution. We are working with our Washington office to try and get this last piece; I am optimistic.

Great Americans Outdoor Act (K. Schneider)

  • We just awarded a contract to complete the final design for the projects and create construction drawings
  • Expect to break ground about a year from now!
  • In FY22 we have about $8 million in funding to rehabilitate the water and wastewater system in the Schoodic district at Acadia.
  • We are working to submit projects for FY23-25. The fund source is very strictly focused on Deferred Maintenance, and really can’t fund capital improvement. Our priorities include water and wastewater systems on MDI, rehabilitation of the Schoodic Shores apartments on the SI campus, and rehabilitation of the Jordan Pond House.
  • Constructing new employee housing is a top priority for us but it likely has too much Capital Improvements, unfortunately, to compete in the fund Eagle Lake Carriage Road Reconstruction (K. Johnston) Eagle Lake construction started this spring. The construction contract was awarded to Harold Mac Quinn, Inc. Crews are actively replacing culverts on the East and South area of the pond. A large unstable talus area in the southwest corner of the Carriage Road has been heavily manipulated to improve stability of the slope. Future work in this area will involve installing stabilization pilings into the slope. Once culvert repairs are complete, work on restoring the road crown and surface will proceed. The current schedule is hopeful for opening the west shore, between intersections 8 and 6 to users before the Fourth of July holiday. Remaining sections will remain closed as work continues.

Update on Education & Resources Management Programs (R. Cole-Will & L. Cohen) Laura Cohen –

Park staff conducted 800 virtual programs this school year and served over 15,000 school children and teachers. Friends of Acadia (FOA) supported this effort through a fundraising effort last year to help update park equipment and provide a temporary staff person to enable to meet this increasing need/demand for virtual programs due to COVID. Schoodic Institute (S.I.) helped provided coordination and scheduling support for the virtual programs. Programs included a coast-to-coast tide pooling program where students virtually visited a tidepool in Acadia as well as a tidepool at a state park in Washington State. Park visitor services continue to adapt to changing COVID guidelines.

The Hulls Cove Visitor Center is currently staffed by rangers in tents providing information outside the building and rangers are selling passes and providing information inside the building as well with limited capacity. Restrooms in the building are open.

Rebecca Cole-Will – There is a great deal of scientific research occurring in Acadia. Much of this is in partnership with FOA and SI. As we speak, a vegetation crew is at the Cadillac Summit working on a large revegetation planting. This work includes SI staff and FOA Wild Acadia project support and funding. The work includes rethinking about how parks manage under rapidly changing climate conditions. So, we are not just replanting species that we know were successful there 100 years ago but thinking about the next 50 -100 years of climate adaptation needs. A major focus of our science here is to promote science literacy. Kevin often says that the NPS has a key role to play in engaging our many visitors in understanding how science works, how we apply the best-available science for making management decisions and how parks are places for creating opportunities for education.

Toward that end, we are working collaboratively on science communication. I invite you to spend a few minutes on the park’s website. There are several excellent examples of science stories that dig into current and cutting age science. From using turtle DNA in water to survey for turtles to how indigenous archeologists are rewriting history by reanalyzing the park’s archeological collections to Research and forest inventory work. This focus on communication tiers off the many research projects going on in the park every year. In your briefing packets, you will find a list of current research projects that give you a good sense of the breadth of research topics. Finally, also in your packet, is a recent New York Times article that features innovative work on climate adaptation with an interview with Abe. I’ll turn this over to him, now to give you a briefing about that work.

Superintendent Comments (Kevin Schneider)

I would like to send a big thank you out to Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent. Mike will be retiring, effective July 31, 2021. We appreciate everything he has done for the park service and for Acadia. It will be a well-deserved retirement. With the end of the Superintendent’s Report and no further questions, we moved on to Old Business.

OLD BUSINESS

Status of Appointments to the Advisory Commission –Mike Madell, Deputy Superintendent To date, ten appointments have been renewed; three are still pending, and there are still three vacancies; Frenchboro, Cranberry Isles, and one Public at Large. Names were submitted to the Dept of the Interior. The vacant positions were posted through the Federal Register. We have no new information on the three pending positions yet.

NEW BUSINESS


Election of Officers of the ANP Advisory Commission:
• Chair: Fred Ehrlenbach [motion made by Ben Worcester, seconded by Dexter Lee, all approve, no opposed]
• Vice Chair: Jackie Johnston [motion made by Carolyn Gothard, seconded by Ben Worcester, all approve, no opposed]
• Secretary: Carolyn Gothard [ motion made by Dexter Lee, seconded by Ben Worcester, all approved, no opposed]

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Lands Committee – Ben Worcester The committee met last week to discuss several easements in the works, to include the Swans Island Mill’s property. The one we want to vote on today is the Swans Island Mill’s Property. Per the Selectboard, there has been no objection. The Swans Island Mills property easement is an amendment to an existing conservation easement on Swans Island, held by Acadia National Park, called the Swans Island Mills Easement. The amendment added more acreage into the easement and limits the number and size of buildings. The motion was made by Dexter Lee to move forward and approve. Ken Cline seconded, All approved and no opposed.

Science & Education Committee – No Report

Park Use Committee – No Report

History Committee – No Report

FRIENDS OF ACADIA – David MacDonald, President & CEO

Thank you to everyone for their positive comments/feedback to FOA for testifying last week on Senator King’s Sub-Committee Hearing for National Parks It has been very challenging closing due to COVID and it is equally challenging opening up. We have a new Communications Director, Lori Schaeffer. Communications is essential and COVID has underscored it. It has been a pleasure to work with the Congressional Delegation on our operating budget and on the consideration of GAOA projects. FOA has been involved with advocacy work as well as funding projects.

SCHOODIC INSTITUTE UPDATE – Nicholas Fisichelli, President & CEO


Safety guidance have been our first concern due to COVID.
  • The kitchen opened for a college group.
  • We are working based at 50% of pre-covid capacity on campus.
  • Rockefeller Center opened Memoria Day, pending COVID guidelines.
  • We have hired 2 dozen seasonal employees.
  • We are understanding & adapting to change
    • Working on Science and Education Projects
    • Second Century Stewardship Training We are looking forward to working with the park and getting everything open again.

ADVISORY COMMISSION COMMENTS

Jackie Johnston – Many thanks for your support to educate the town on the park’s interests.
Ken Cline – Kudos and congratulations to the park on work done by Eagle Lake.

PUBLIC COMMENT

John Suiter – (Cadillac Reservations) Are there plans for concessionaires to transport visitors?
John Kelly – Yes, we are planning on having busses.

Carol Woodcock, Regional Representative Senator Collins – It is nice to see everyone, and everything is up and running well and looking forward to a great summer.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Given no further public comments, the Commission Chair made closing comments. Please remember to send any suggestions for agenda items for the September 13th, 2021, meeting to Fred Ehrlenbach.

ADJOURNMENT

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 13, 2021, 1:00 P.M. at Schoodic Institute, Winter Harbor, Maine, as published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.
(*Meeting location/platform may change pending COVID-19 situation).

Motion was made by Carolyn Gothard to adjourn, seconded by Ken Cline, and approved by all, no opposed. Motion passed.

Meeting adjourned at 2:34 pm

Minutes Submitted by Kathy Flanders

Last updated: September 21, 2021

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Bar Harbor , ME 04609

Phone:

207 288-3338

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