ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Acadia is still feeling ripple effects from the 35-day federal government shutdown this past December and January: a shortage of seasonal employees and a delay in implementing a key feature of the park’s long-range transportation plan.
The park typically hires 120 to 150 employees for the busy summer season.
Early winter is when supervisors are usually busy reviewing lists of applicants for seasonal jobs, interviewing candidates, making selections and going through the rather lengthy hiring process for federal employees.
“With the government shutdown, we were slow in getting our seasonals hired,” Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Acadia Advisory Commission on Monday.
“We really prioritized the hiring effort on those seasonal positions that had to do with getting the park up and running for visitors this spring, and we successfully met that requirement by and large.”
However, Schneider said the park still doesn’t have as many seasonal employees as usual.
“We’re dealing with short staffing on many of the work crews,” he said. “For example, folks handling fee collection are quite short-staffed. That’s really a result of being late in hiring and then not having enough people to choose from on our list of applicants, because people had already taken other jobs in other locations.”
Schneider said other areas that lack a full complement of seasonal employees include the trail crew, carriage road maintenance crew and invasive plant and wildlife management crew.
Reservation system delayed
The government shutdown delayed final approval by National Park Service officials of Acadia’s long-range transportation plan, which calls for a timed-entry reservation system for the Cadillac Mountain summit road, the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road and the north parking lot at Jordan Pond. The reservation system is intended to help alleviate traffic and parking congestion at those locations.
“We hope to have the reservation system in place by 2021,” Schneider told the Advisory Commission. “I believe at some point we may have said we were hoping for 2020, but with the delay in getting the [transportation] plan finalized, it’s just not possible. We’re not going to be ready in 2020.”