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Acadia Trails Forever

Description: Acadia Trails Forever, Acadia National Park, is a joint effort of Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park to rehabilitate130-mile foot trail system, restore 11 miles of abandoned trails, create five village connector paths linking communities to the park, and endow maintenance of the trail system in perpetuity. The project began in 2000 and will be completed by 2010.

Acadia Trails Forever was publicly launched in July 1999 with a $13-million fundraising campaign to benefit the trails of Acadia National Park. Friends of Acadia raised $9 million in private donations. The National Park Service committed $4 million in federal funds, mostly from the Acadia National Park entry fee program, in which 80 percent of the revenue collected remains with the park to fund repair, maintenance and resource rehabilitation. Fundraising goals were met in July 2000, two years earlier than anticipated.

From the $9 million raised by Friends of Acadia, three endowments were established. A $5-million endowment (which included a $3-million, 1-to-1 match for all other private contributions) is for maintenance of the trails once they are restored. Another $1 million endows the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, a 20-person trail crew that is funded yearly. The third endowment was established for $500,000 to fund the Ridge Runners, who assist resource management staff in constructing cairns, monitoring trail and carriage road use, and advising hikers about "leave no trace" principles. The remaining private funds ($2.5 million) go toward trail construction, to augment park capital expenditures.

Geographic area covered: Acadia National Park encompasses 47,633 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline in Bar Harbor, Maine.

List of partners and relationships: Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park.

Accomplishments to date: Completed $13-million Acadia Trails Forever campaign in less than one year. Successful $3-million challenge to other donors. First national park to use entry fees to match private fundraising. First national park in history of the National Park System to have a privately endowed trail system.

Key success factors:

  1. Mutual respect between park and friends group.
  2. Good memorandum of agreement specifying each partner's roles.
  3. Established goals and developed criteria for evaluating trails.
  4. Lead donation of $5 million to Friends of Acadia, hot stock market.
  5. Trail work being done by park trail crews and a commitment by volunteers too.
  6. Annual progress monitoring by park and friends group.

Frustrations: Minimal

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. Good partnerships depend as much on informal relationships and mutual respect as they do on formal written agreements.
  2. Each partner must try hard to show the other in a positive light.
  3. Annual progress must be visible on the ground and each major accomplishment publicized to show public and donors that what was planned is really happening.
  4. Park visitor love trails, which represent a literal and philosophical connection between people and the natural national parks.

What would you do differently next time: Raise larger amounts of funds.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): "Preserving Acadia" video available through Friends of Acadia. Friends of Acadia Journal (published three times a year).

For more information:

Name: Sheridan Steele
Affiliation: Superintendent, Acadia National Park
Phone/Fax: 207-288-8700

Name: Marla Stellpflug O’Bryne
Affiliation: President, Friends of Acadia
Phone/Fax: 207-288-3340

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvement _X_; Facility Management _X_; Trails ___; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services _X_; Transportation _X_; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism _X_; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: W. Kent Olson, former President, Friends of Acadia Date posted: 9/19/03
Phone: 207-288-3340

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