The park will be open every day starting April 15. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Acadia closing hoax fools FB fans



ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — A whole lot of people apparently were duped by a phony press release posted on Facebook last Friday, April Fool’s Day, announcing that Acadia would be closed three days a week this year because of insufficient federal funding.

The story was posted on the “Acadia National Park Community” Facebook page, which is not maintained or sanctioned by the park. According to several sources, the FB page allegedly was created by Brescian Lander, who operates Acadia Park Kayak Tours in Bar Harbor. He could not be reached for comment on the April Fool’s Day hoax.

Acadia officials quickly refuted the bogus report with a FB post stating that the park will be open “24 hours a day, every day of the week starting April 15, just as we are every year.” The post directed readers to the park’s official FB page, Acadia National Park, for “up-to-date and correct information.”

The original, false post said, “Because of Congress’s failure to meet the National Park Service’s budget requests and the subsequent 68 million dollars of Acadia’s backlogged maintenance needs … Acadia will be closed three out of seven days starting in May.

“The partial closure is intended to help save enough money that the park can make critical repairs to its infrastructure that it has had to defer for years.”

Deputy Superintendent Mike Madell said Tuesday that quite a few people who read the bogus post called park headquarters on Friday.

“The phone pretty much rang off the hook for a few hours after that was posted, people being a combination of upset and angry and confused,” he said.

David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia, said that organization did not get a lot of calls from people concerned about the accuracy of the Facebook post.

“The park bore the brunt of it,” he said. “The park did reach out to us, asking us to help put out correct information.”

Within a few hours of the phony report being posted, hundreds of people commented on it on FB. Many expressed sadness and disappointment, others outrage. In doing so, some responders revealed their animosity toward the federal government.

“We can thank our Congress for once again failing to do its job,” Ann Ryan wrote. “This is shameful.”

Diane Fisher Hill echoed that sentiment: “Another case of our Congress sitting on their butts and not doing what they should to protect and fund our national treasures.”

Jan Hewes Francis wrote, “Keep wasting money on illegal aliens and importing people that hate us, the president and Congress should be ashamed.”

In the view of Kathleen Kallend, the government doesn’t have enough money for the national parks because it is “too busy funding unnecessary wars.”

Jeff Rueckgauer called it an “absolute disgrace” that both Congress and Maine state government “refuse to make a priority of anything except aiding and abetting tax evasion by corporations and the wealthy … or trying to make [President Obama] look bad.”

Some people said that the story about Acadia closing was obviously a hoax, but a few were not convinced.

“I can’t believe that many commenting think this is an April Fool’s joke,” wrote Kris Hormann. “Pay attention people! This has been going on for years. It’s those who want private ‘development’ of public lands who are buying Congressional votes to underfund our precious National Parks.”

The hoax apparently caused some people to change their vacation plans.

“I called and cancelled our reservations for our two-week stay in Bar Harbor in September,” Deborah Craig Shields said in a FB post. “Losing my $200 deposit, but why go when half our stay, the park will be closed.”

Madell said he had heard from a couple of innkeepers in Bar Harbor who told him that some people had called to cancel their reservations.

“I assume they were able to explain it to them and that [the cancellations] didn’t happen,” he said. “I hope there are no long-term effects [of the hoax]. I certainly don’t think there will be anything major.”

 

Reporter Liz Graves contributed to this story.

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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