Acadia National Park Headquarters
Monday, March 12, 2018 1:00 pm
Jacqueline Johnston, Chair
Fred Ehrlenbach, Vice Chair
Ben Emory, Member
Carolyn Gothard, Member
Katherine Heidinger, Member
Dexter Lee, Member
Howie Motenko, Member
Stephen Shea, Member
Ben Worcester, Member
Matt Horton, Member
Ken Cline, Member
Ken Smith, Member
Kevin Schneider, Superintendent, ANP
Michael Madell, Deputy Superintendent, ANP
Therese Picard, Acting Chief Ranger, ANP
Rebecca Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management, ANP
Christie Anastasia, Public Information Officer, ANP
Stephanie Clement, Conservation Director, Friends of Acadia
Don Kent, President & CEO, Schoodic Institute
Chris Rector, Regional Rep, Senator King
Members of the Public
The Commission Chair called the meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, Monday, March 12, 2018, 1:00 p.m. to order.
APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA
There is one addition to the agenda to add Nomination of Officers to New Business.
A motion was made to approve the agenda by Ben Emory; seconded by Ben Worcester; all approved; no opposed.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
A motion was made by Ken Cline to accept the minutes of the September 11, 2017, ANP Advisory Commission meeting; motion was seconded by Matt Horton; and unanimously accepted.
SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT – Kevin Schneider
Transportation Plan – Kevin Schneider, Superintendent
Superintendent Schneider recognized Chris Rector, Regional Representative from Senator King’s office. Senator King was very helpful to help make sure that this commission was able to meet and we appreciate his work in putting it on the Secretary’s radar screen.
Kevin gave a review of the visitation numbers at Acadia National Park and the transportation plan.
We are making progress on writing the Transportation Plan and associated Environmental Impact Statement. We remain hopeful we will have a draft plan for public review, realistically around May 1st. We will have public meetings in the communities, as well as a 45 day public comment period. We have been doing some public outreach over the last six months – including meetings with Board of Selectman at Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor.
Entrance Fees – Kevin Schneider
Superintendent Schneider gave a brief update on the status of the entrance fees and the proposed increase. Last fall, the Secretary of the Interior proposed higher entrance fees for several national parks, including Acadia. This would increase Acadia’s entrance fee from $25.00 to $70.00 for one week. There were a lot of public comments on that proposal (we are hearing 100,000). They are reviewing the public comments. It is, ultimately, the Secretary’s decision. It is not a decision being made at the park level. If we are to increase fees for this upcoming summer season, we will need to know as soon as possible as there is a lot of work to do in preparing for the increase to include changing signs and reprogramming cash registers. There is a good amount of work that goes into that. We hope to hear something soon but I don’t know if we will or not. So stay tuned on the entrance fee proposal. Part of the strategy for increased entrance fees was to invest in deferred maintenance, which is what we already are doing. 55% of our net entrance fee revenue gets targeted toward projects that involve some kind of deferred maintenance.
After some discussion by the ANP Advisory Commission, the following motion was made:
Matt Horton made the motion that Jackie Johnston draft a letter, which will be reviewed by all commission members prior to being mailed, stating that the ANP Advisory Commission is opposed to an increase in park fees from $25 to $70.
Seconded by Ben Emory – All in Favor – No Opposed
Boundary and Intertidal Legislation - Kevin Schneider
In terms of the update on the boundary and intertidal legislation, I was in Washington last week and had the opportunity to meet with members of our delegation and their staff. We are hearing that it continues to move forward. It is outside of the park’s control. The National Park Service is supportive of the legislation that Senator King and Congressman Poliquin have taken the lead on in the Senate and the House. . But now it is up to the Senate and House to get the bills passed. It passed unanimously out of committee in the House, I believe, and is scheduled to be voted on soon. We think, in the Senate, it will have a markup in the next few months or sooner. Chris Rector, “I think that’s exactly right. Over the next couple of months, we are hoping it will move out of committee in the Senate”.
Update on the Acquisition of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse – Kevin Schneider
We are continuing to work with the Coast Guard on the potential transfer of Bass Harbor Light. We are waiting for the Coast Guard to begin the disposal action which would then allow the National Park Service to take it on. The Coast Guard has completed the environmental compliance; the 106 compliance. There is a utility right-of-way, since they are going to maintain the right-of-way to the structure, so there are legal documents associated with that. We have met with the Town of Tremont and the Bass Harbor Historical Society in the fall to hear the town’s Board of Selectman’s perspective on the exchange, along with the Historical Society’s perspective. We continue to be interested in exploring options that will generate revenue for the structure, as they are expensive to maintain. And we also recognize it is a really important cultural and historic icon for Acadia National Park. It is the only lighthouse accessible to visitors of Acadia National Park and it is important to preserve it. It will not be under the ownership of Acadia National Park by summer, as originally thought, based on the coast Guard’s schedule. - The possibility of an endowment was addressed and discussed in regards to maintaining the lighthouse.
Lease of the Blue Duck on Islesford – Becky Cole-Will, Chief of Resource Management
The Blue Duck was built around the 1850’s and was also known as the Hadlock Ships’ Store. It was used as a ships’ store, a sail loft, for artists, and then sold to Dr. William Sawtelle who used the building as his first museum before building his museum building. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We only use the building, primarily, for storage, and the public restrooms are located in it. This is a new opportunity for the park to partner with the community to use the building in a way that is historically appropriate. We went through the leasing process and Islesford Boatworks is going to be occupying the building on a ten-year lease. They will pay a small lease and, in addition, work with us to do rehabilitation of the interior of the building. This will maintain the building and, also, bring it back to community use. The Islesford Boatworks will use the building for their Maine Youth Boat Building Program, which is a successful summer program started 12 years ago for youths of all ages, 7 and older, to learn the art of building traditional wooden boats using traditional hand tools. It will be a wonderful fit with the history of the building and the way the museum is being used within the community, while allowing for the maintenance and preservation of the building. This is a new way of managing historic buildings.
Update on Work with Tribal Communities on Plant Gathering in the Park – Becky Cole-Will
Becky circulated a small basket made of ash and sweetgrass and made by a Wabanaki basketmaker. Sweetgrass is an imported traditional plant for the Wabinaki tribes in Maine. We have been working with the tribes doing consultation and work under new federal regulations which allows for a process where federally recognized Indian tribes can apply and work with parks to collect plants of traditional interest within parks. We have been talking with the Wabinaki here, which consists of four tribes, and the plant with the most significance and interest to them as a traditional plant is sweetgrass, which grows in our salt marshes. We are researching the extent of the populations here and whether it can be sustained as an ongoing harvest in a traditional manner. It is primarily used in basketmaking. It is also used for ceremonial purposes and as medicine. It aligns with the approach of the new federal regulations. Under most of the regulations, you cannot collect plants within the national park but this is a new approach to work with tribes who are associated.
Construction Updates – Michael Madell, Deputy Superintendent
Construction projects are paid for, in part, by the entrance fees at Acadia. We retain 80% of fees in the park and most of these projects are paid for in full, or in part, by these fees. Pretty much all these projects will serve to reduce the backlogged deferred maintenance in the park once they are complete.
Ongoing construction projects in the park:
1. Rebuilding Wildwood Stables Campground, 54% complete
2. Replacing Blackwoods Water Tank, 25% complete
3. Repair of Jordan Pond Tea Lawn, 32% complete
4. Repair Seawall Check-In Station, to include rebuilding a stone chimney, 58% complete
5. Rockefeller Sewer Pipe Replaced, 28% complete
6. Duck Brook Motor Bridge – repointing, both exterior and interior work, and resurfacing 80% complete
Construction projects in the active planning stages include:
1. Rehabilitation of the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center
2. Schoodic Power Line Replacement
3. Cadillac Radio Tower Replacement
4. Eagle Lake Carriage Road Rehabilitation
5. Islesford Museum Rehabilitation
6. Rehabilitate the Schoodic Water Tower
7. Rehabilitate Park Amphitheaters (Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds)
In addition, we did have major flooding and ice at Sieur de Monts this past winter to the point the Nature Center and restrooms were under water. We are unsure of the amount of damage at this time and there needs to be an assessment completed, as well as maintenance work.
The administrative and maintenance complex on McFarland Hill is, also, nearing its life expectancy. We don’t have anything definitive on the docket right now. We keep hearing promises of an infrastructure bill. We have been exploring other funding. There is nothing definitive yet but we are cautiously optimistic that we can start the process in the near horizon to rehab. Part of that project would be to relocate our fuel tanks, which are currently within the Eagle Lake watershed, out of the watershed. Water is well protected and we don’t foresee any contamination should there be an unforeseen incident but getting it out of the watershed would certainly prevent it altogether.
Highway 3 Rebuild and In-park Detour – Michael Madell
The Highway 3 project will be starting around mid-April, weather pending. There will be one-way traffic with inbound on Route 3 from Hull’s Cove into the town of Bar Harbor only. Outbound traffic will detour through the park on Paradise Hill Road, off Eagle Lake, and continuing through to Hull’s Cove. A stop light has been temporarily installed at the intersection where you enter the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
One difference in the construction this year is commercial traffic will not be allowed on the detour. Commerical vehicles will be required to travel out Eagle Lake Road to Highway 198. This may affect delivery drivers but should not affect residents or visitors.
Report Pilot Info Desk/Permit Sales at Bar Harbor Chamber – Lynne Dominy, Chief of Interpretation
On October 31st, 2017, we closed the Hulls Cove Visitor Center for the winter. With limited accessibility to headquarters, we decided to test a pilot program relocating the winter visitor center to a small corner space in the Chamber in downtown Bar Harbor. It is a central location where visitors already go and where we could focus on the quality of visitor information provided. We received positive feedback, especially from the park visitors themselves; we found the visitation was heaviest in December, especially with the downtown events and our pass sale. We had a visitation increase in February during winter break (and good weather). Overall, we were able to serve double the people this year at this location compared to the previous year at headquarters. It is a pilot. It is an attempt to bridge our communication with the business community and the community in Bar Harbor, as well as the Visitor Center already in Bar Harbor. Our intent is to return to Hulls Cove Visitor Center when it re-opens on April 15th.
Park Superintendent, Kevin Schneider, welcomed and introduced Don Kent, President & CEO of Schoodic Institute.
Election of New Officers – Callie Gothard
Per the changes in By-laws, nominations need to be submitted for officers annually.
Nominations must be submitted to Callie Gothard at least 30 days prior to the June 4th meeting.
Officers serve for no more than three consecutive terms in the same office.
Science & Education
SCHOODIC INSTITUTE UPDATE – Don Kent, President & CEO
We are looking at Schoodic Institute and we have a new strategic plan in progress. The preview is that our purpose is a commitment to promoting Science Literacy in Environmental Stewardship. We are doing that in partnership with Acadia National Park, the National Park Service, College of the Atlantic, Friends of Acadia, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and various select universities and other partners. We are going to work in a partnership model.
We have four pillars we are looking at: Science – focused on ecosystem change; An emphasis on scientific communication - being able to communicate to all people, all backgrounds, all ages not just to other scientist; Education – with our emphasis on citizen science, specifically community citizen science; and Thought Workshops - we want to be thought leaders not only locally but globally. We want to advance the discussion around big topics and bring people to Schoodic to figure out solutions.
We are very much community based. We will be taking on challenges that are relevant to people; from a science standpoint – from a communications standpoint – from an education standpoint. And even advancing it down the road; bringing in people so we can get ahead of the problem and being proactive.
FRIENDS of ACADIA UPDATE – Stephanie Clement, Conservation Director
David MacDonald extends his apologies. He had to leave for another meeting. Stephanie introduced Jason Irwin, new Vice President of Finance & Administration, taking over for Diana McDowell who will be retiring after 20+ years of wonderful service to FOA.
Last fall, we hosted the Friends Alliance Conference here in at Acadia. Thank you to the many park staff who was involved. We had about 200 partners from peer organizations from all across the country here to see the great things going on at Acadia. It was a heart-warming experience for all of us. And thank you to Howie Motenko for coming to the Friends Alliance Conference on behalf of the Advisory Commission.
David just returned from the national conference in Washington, DC, where he had wonderful meetings with Senator King and the other representatives from the Maine Congressional Delegation. David continued to work on the boundary legislation and we are looking forward to the passage of the bill, which FOA is in support of.
We continue to track the proposed fee increases. We do not have any more information than what you heard today. We submitted comments expressing out concerns on the fee increases and, also, the commercial fee increases and the potential impacts, especially to transportation in, and around, the park, should those fee increases go through as proposed.
We have been working with the Pew Charitable Trusts locally through the Restore America’s Parks campaign. And there were two towns in our region that passed resolutions supporting multiple initiatives to try to reduce the maintenance backlog. Thank you to Bar Harbor and the City of Ellsworth for passing those resolutions.
And we continue to work with the delegation on a variety of legislative options. And we thank Senator King for his support on both bills that have been introduced to try to create sustainable funding from mineral revenues to address the maintenance backlog.
The President recommended no funding in the budget this year for the Centennial Challenge Program, which is a public/private matching program where the park has successfully received funds for vistas restorations, Youth Conservation Corp, trail maintenance in the park. We still have a project we put forward for FY19 that will be for a ‘model family camping’ type of program that we will be happy to support. We’ll hope that funding still gets allocated into the Centennial Challenge Program.
We are looking forward to the release of the park’s transportation plan. We stand ready, along with other organizations, to try to provide funding assistance for the park to work on various initiatives that might come from that.
We are in the midst of our spring hiring; the Summit Steward crew, Youth Conservation Corp, and we just hired Dana Peterson to work full-time as a stewardship position on Acadia winter trails and supporting the volunteer crew leaders who go out in the field everyday with volunteers. As you know Charlie Jacobi retired so we bumped up support for the Recreation Technician. We will have two Rec Techs working this year with the Resource Management staff until Charlie’s replacement is hired.
Dennis Smith, Resident of Otter Creek – With the highway repair, will they be repairing the fish passage under Duck Brook?
Mike Madell – It was discussed as the project was being developed. The resolution isn’t perfect; not how we would have liked it. MDOT will be replacing the culvert and putting things in place so that, down the road, passage may be restored (if the downstream dam, which is the main barrier to passage, is removed).MDOT would then be able to go in and, more easily, adapt the culvert and make the correction.
Dennis Smith, Resident of Otter Creek –Recommendation to see the road plowed at Blackwoods Campground during the winter for those who want to use it.
Jackie Johnston – We will take that into consideration.
Alison Lawrence, Member of the Public – Compass Harbor parking lot has not been plowed recently but has been all winter. It is not associated with the Carriage Roads. Why is that?
Madell – It normally should have been. It is one we typically plow. I will look into it.
Ed Noonan, General Manager for Dawnland LLC – The retail stores at Acadia National Park will open on May 1st, 2018. The Jordan Pond restaurant will open May 17th. However, I will let Acadia speak on the tea lawn.
Madell - They will not be serving on the tea lawn until, hopefully, June 20th. If you are hiking in the area, you can skirt around the edges of the lawn but not on the lawn itself.
Duncan Holly, Mt. Desert and Destination North America – Matt’s motion only addressed the car fee. The fee affects every vehicle that enters the park including bikes and buses. I just think that is an important note. Buses have increased 6 fold.
Kevin Schneider - The commercial tour fee Duncan is referring to is a percentage increase that is actually greater that the per car fee. It didn’t get as much attention in the news. The tour fees get more complicated because of the size of vehicle. Bicycles are currently $12 with a proposed fee of $25.
Jackie Johnston – I’ll make a very general statement.
Jackie Johnston read a letter from Steven Smith, George Davis, and Rodney King of Otter Creek, dropped off to the ANP Advisory Commission. (Letter is attached – Mr. Smith was not available)
Jackie Johnston – Legal supporting document from Otter Creek would help the Lands Committee to facilitate discussion.
Ben Emory –Requested the ANP Advisory Commission’s Land’s Committee meet prior to the June Advisory Commission meeting for briefing by Acadia National Park on the situation in Otter Creek.
The Commission Chair made closing comments. Please remember to send any suggestions for agenda items for the June meeting to Jackie Johnston.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 4th, 2018, 1:00 P.M. at Park Headquarters, McFarland Hill Drive, Bar Harbor, as published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.
Motion was made by Katherine Heidinger to adjourn, seconded by Matt Horton, and approved by all.