ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Acadia will receive $500,000 in federal funds for the Great Meadow restoration project, which aims to improve water flow in the wetland, remove invasive plants and improve trails.
The funding, announced by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, was authorized through the bipartisan $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Congress passed in November.
Great Meadow is Acadia’s largest freshwater wetland.
“Restoring the Great Meadow wetland and improving the trail system so that people can get out on the landscape is extremely important,” Chuck Sams, director of the National Park Service, said in an interview with the Islander from his office in Washington on Tuesday.
Speaking of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Sams said, “I’m very happy to see that this investment will support the national parks’ efforts to tackle the climate crisis across the parks and also some of our recreational needs.
“This also frees up money in the Great American Outdoors Act, and it can free up money in our regular line-item budget so that we can do more project work on the ground.”
Rebecca Cole-Will, chief of resource management at Acadia, said of the Great Meadow project, “We’re working on improving the functioning, the resilience and the ecology of the whole wetland and improving the trails for recreation such as bird watching and wildlife viewing.
“This [new federal] funding is intended to do restoration for recreation.” Cole-Will said.
Trails in the Great Meadow area are the Jesup Path, Hemlock Trail and Stratheden Trail.
Improving water flow in and through Great Meadow is a major goal of the restoration project. One of the biggest problems, which impacts the hydrology in the entire area, is the culvert under the Park Loop Road that was installed in the 1930s to carry the waters of Cromwell Brook out of the Great Meadow. That culvert is too small for the job, especially after a heavy rain, so water backs up and forms an ever-widening pool on the upstream side of the road.
Engineering and design work is being done this year for a much larger conduit to replace the culvert. Another possible remedy is to slow the flow of water into Cromwell Brook from the network of ditches in the 100-acre Great Meadow.
“The Great Meadow is one of the areas in the park that is heavily impacted by invasive plants,” Cole-Will said. “We will do substantial treatment to remove them. And working with tribal consultants, we will look at how to build resilient native plant populations back into the Great Meadow.”
Sens. Collins and King were instrumental in securing Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding for the Acadia project. Collins was one of 10 senators who negotiated the text of the law. King is chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on National Parks.