Jackie Johnston, chairman of the Acadia Advisory Commission, said that the agenda for the next meeting will include discussion of the boundary bill, transportation plan and proposed fee increase. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Acadia advisory panel meeting is postponed: Deadline for notice missed

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The Jan. 29 meeting of the Acadia Advisory Commission, the citizen panel that typically meets three times a year, has been rescheduled for March 12 because notice of the meeting was not published in the Federal Register within the timeframe required by law.

Publication must occur at least 15 days in advance of the meeting.

“While getting the notice of meetings published might sound like it should be an easy thing to do, it does require many separate items and multiple offices to line up exactly right,” Christie Anastasia, Acadia’s public affairs specialist, said in an email to the Islander. “Most of the time it happens; this time it did not.”

She said the Advisory Commission serves an important function, and the timely notification of its meetings is “extremely important to ensure that the public has the opportunity to participate and provide advice and recommendations regarding Acadia National Park’s operations and activities.”

The Acadia Advisory Commission was created in 1986 to serve as a liaison between the park and its neighboring towns. Ten of its 16 members are appointed by those communities’ town boards. Three members are appointed by the governor of Maine and three by the U.S. secretary of the interior.

At each of its meetings, the commission hears updates from park officials on various projects and plans and offers feedback. The meetings also are a forum for the public to ask questions or express concerns about any aspect of park operations.

Commission Chairman Jackie Johnston has been working with Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider on the agenda for the meeting that will now be held March 12 at park headquarters.

She said last week that the agenda, which is still in draft form, includes updates on the status of the Acadia boundary clarification bill, which is awaiting congressional action; the park’s comprehensive, long-range transportation plan; and the Department of the Interior’s proposal to greatly increase entrance fees at Acadia and other high-visitation parks during their peak seasons.

The draft agenda indicates that commission members will have an opportunity to vote on a resolution regarding the proposed fee hike.

The Acadia Advisory Commission typically meets in January, June and September.

Last year’s June meeting was cancelled after Ryan Zinke, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), announced last spring that the activities of all such citizen advisory panels would be suspended while his department reviewed their memberships, budgets and accomplishments over the previous five years. The suspension was lifted Sept. 1, and the Acadia commission met Sept. 11.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that some national park advisory groups around the country are still not able to meet because the DOI “has yet to approve their updated charters,” as required by the Federal Advisory Committee act.

The Post also reported that nine of the 12 members of the National Park Service’s advisory board resigned Monday “out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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