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Contact: Stuart West, 207-288-8770
Beginning May 1, Acadia National Park will open the Sand Beach Entrance Station and other fee collection stations and begin charging for park entrance fee for the 2014 summer season. There will be two significant changes this year to the entrance fee program. The weekly park entrance fee for vehicles will now cost $20 year-round; eliminating the shoulder season rate of $10. The park will also begin requiring that entrance passes are displayed in vehicles at all times while in the park.
The NPS estimates that increasing the entrance fee to $20.00 during the shoulder seasons will provide an additional $225,000 annually for the operation of the Island Explorer bus system and other alternative transportation projects. Island Explorer ridership has grown from 141,000 riders in 1999 to 424,000 in 2013, and service was extended into the fall season starting in 2003. Throughout the park and surrounding communities, Island Explorer has served nearly five million passengers over the past 15 seasons. Funding from park entrance fees covers a significant part of the Island Explorer's annual operating budget, and the additional funds will help ensure its sustainability into the future.
The NPS will also expand efforts to inform park visitors about the need to obtain and display their entrance pass. Park rangers will be checking for valid entrance passes and educating visitors about how the NPS uses the fees to improve visitor facilities and services. If a vehicle is parked in Acadia and does not display an entrance pass or hangtag, park rangers will leave a bright green informational card under the windshield wiper. As a reminder, the NPS will also be installing new signs that read, "Park Entrance Pass Required," at locations where visitors enter the park by vehicle.
"The new requirement is in response to the average 68% entrance fee compliance rate," said Chief Ranger Stuart West. "Sequestration and the resulting late park opening last year really opened people's eyes about how close to the bottom line we were operating. When you're operating so close to the red, every penny counts. Not collecting all the fees due to the park places limits on what the park can do and when we can swing open the gates. None of us wants to see another late road opening, especially the business community whose livelihood depends upon the park being open to vehicles. Increasing fee compliance is a natural outcome of making the most of what you have to work with."
Park visitors who have a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, such as an Interagency Senior, Access, Annual or an Acadia Annual card pass, are now asked to display their pass on their dashboard or use a free vehicle hangtag issued to all passholders at Acadia National Park fee collection stations. Although such methods are commonplace in other national parks, it will be new to Acadia.
All entrance passes may be obtained seasonally at the following Acadia National Park fee stations: Sand Beach Entrance Station, Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Bar Harbor Village Green, Thompson Island Information Center, Blackwoods Campground, Seawall Campground, and park headquarters. Acadia weekly entrance passes are also available at: Cadillac Mountain gift shop, Jordan Pond House gift shop, and some area businesses (please call 207-288-3338 for a list of these locations).
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act enables Acadia National Park to retain 80% of fees collected through the sales of passes and the collection of campground and entrance fees. These fees pay for needed repairs and projects to improve visitor services and facilities. The remaining 20% benefits all National Park Service sites.