Acadia boundary bill headed to the president

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A package of more than 100 federal lands bills that the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week includes the Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act.

The Senate had passed the omnibus lands bill earlier last month. So, now all that is needed for it to become law is the president’s signature.

The Acadia portion of the 260-page bill validates the National Park Service’s 2015 expansion of the park’s boundary to include 1,441 acres of donated land on the Schoodic Peninsula. A large portion of that land is now the Schoodic Woods Campground.

No one publicly expressed opposition to Acadia’s annexation of the Schoodic property, but a number of area public officials and others have maintained that only Congress has the authority to approve such an expansion. The new bill restricts future expansion of the park’s boundary.

Another provision of Acadia boundary act permits the continued harvesting of clams and worms within the park’s intertidal zone. It states that the secretary of the Department of the Interior “shall allow for the traditional taking of marine species, marine worms and shellfish on land within the park between the mean high water mark and the mean low water mark in accordance with state law.”

Loosening the restriction on future uses of the land on which Tremont Consolidated School was built is another part of the Acadia bill.

In 1950, Acadia transferred the land to the town of Tremont for construction of the school. The deed provided that if, at any time, the land was no longer used for “school purposes,” it would revert to Acadia.

Under the bill that Congress just passed the property does not have to be used strictly for school purposes, but “shall remain in public ownership for recreational, educational or similar public purposes.”

The Acadia bill also gives the town of Bar Harbor a 0.29-acre lot adjacent to the transfer station on White Spruce Road that Town Manager Cornell Knight has said the town currently has no use for.

He told the Islander in January that, at one time, the town was interested in acquiring the lot.

“We had talked about that when we were building our [new] transfer station because it is right on the fence line,” he said. “But we ended up being able to site it so that it wasn’t really necessary.”

The Acadia boundary bill states that if the White Spruce Road lot is not used for a “solid waste transfer facility or other public purposes” consistent with the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1926, “the land shall, at the discretion of the Secretary [of the Interior], revert to the United States.”

Another section of the bill reauthorizes the Acadia Advisory Commission, a 16-member citizens’ panel that serves as a liaison between the park administration and surrounding communities.

The Acadia Boundary Clarification Act was originally introduced by Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King and former 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin. That bill passed the House last year but did not come up for a vote by the full Senate before Congress adjourned in December.

In January, the bill was reintroduced by King and Rep. Jared Golden, who defeated Poliquin in last November’s election.

The original title of the omnibus public lands bill that includes the Acadia boundary act was the Natural Resources Management Act. The title has since been changed to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in honor of the long-time Michigan congressman who died 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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