ACADIA NAT’L PARK — All four of Acadia’s campgrounds will remain closed this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, park officials announced Thursday.
“Despite our efforts to open the campgrounds, we have not been able to hire the necessary staff to maintain them according to federal and state CDC guidelines,” Public Affairs Specialist Christie Anastasia said in a press statement.
Acadia’s four campgrounds are Blackwoods and Seawall on Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Woods on the Schoodic Peninsula and Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut. Park officials had said earlier this summer that they hoped to be able to open Blackwoods and Schoodic Woods in August.
Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider spoke about staffing and campgrounds at a Zoom meeting with Bar Harbor town officials on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.
“The challenge with campgrounds has been custodians and cleaning restrooms,” Schneider noted. “It’s a real challenge.” He said that with restrooms needing more frequent cleaning and with less custodial staff to do it, the park has had to keep some park facilites closed.
Schneider said the park has hired less seasonal staff this year “largely because of housing.” In past years, the park has housed 80 seasonal employees. “This year we’re only housing 38 people,” he said, due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We didn’t want people sharing a bathroom,” he said. “We had to decrease the density of our housing.”
“Private campgrounds have done a great job picking up that slack,” Schneider said.
Schneider noted that visitation to the park has been down this year, but that it is on the increase. “Our June visitation was down by 59 percent compared to June of last year,” he said. Though he does not have numbers for July yet, he said entrance fee revenue in July was down 37 percent from the previous July. He said online pass sales have doubled and seasonal pass sales have held steady.
As an indication of increased visitation, Schneider announced that the Cadillac Mountain road had to be closed due to congestion five times in the past few weeks. He said that the pilot reservation system, requiring people to buy passes to access Cadillac summit road and Ocean Drive, will begin this fall. “With the pandemic, I think it’s going to be an even better time to do it,” Schneider said of the pilot program aimed at preventing overcrowding.
Becky Pritchard also contributed to this article.