About 250 people clustered around the Ranger Station at the Schoodic Woods campground in Winter Harbor Wednesday afternoon for the official opening. Among the ribbon cutters was U.S. Senator Angus King, who planned to camp out overnight with his wife, Mary. Susan Newton, an executive with the National Park Foundation, announced the foundation has taken ownership of the property until it can be transferred to the National Park Service. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Acadia officially opens Schoodic campground

WINTER HARBOR — The owners of the new Schoodic Woods Campground on the Schoodic Peninsula, which formally opened Wednesday, have transferred their interest in the property to the National Park Foundation. Eventually, that property will be transferred to Acadia National Park, officials there confirmed earlier this summer.

The change in ownership occurred two weeks before Wednesday’s ribbon cutting at the 94-site campground.

Schoodic Woods also includes 8.5 miles of bicycle trails and five additional miles of hiking paths.

The Park Foundation’s sole mission is to support the National Park Service, which operates the campground.

The chairman of the foundation is Sally Jewel, U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) led off the grand opening festivities at the campground Wednesday afternoon.

Asked on Tuesday if he was aware of the gift by Schoodic Woods LLC, King said, “I know that it’s happening and my understanding is the same individual family that donated the land also donated the work on the park.”

“It’s a generous gift from an anonymous donor, and I certainly want to thank them,” he said.

Schoodic Woods LLC has two principals: Lyme Timber Co. of New Hampshire, which purchased 3,200 acres from a developer in Italy, and a family foundation that prefers to remain anonymous.

King planned to camp one night at Schoodic Woods with his wife, Mary, in their 24-foot recreational vehicle.

The senator and his family in 2011 spent nearly six months on a coast-to-coast RV journey after King completed two terms as governor of Maine.

Schoodic Woods “is a great asset for the park,” King said. “It takes a little pressure off portions of the park on Mount Desert and exposes people to another aspect of the park that is just wonderful.”

Soon-to-retire Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele said on Wednesday that the campground means generations of Americans will enjoy the Schoodic Peninsula in new ways.

“They will have a great experience thanks to the vision and foresight of donors acting through the National Park Foundation,” Steele said.

“My wife, Barb, and I, have ridden all of the new bike trails and walked the new hiking trails, and we can enthusiastically recommend them to you,” he added. “Just think of the family times around the campfire, the rich s’mores, evenings under the stars and the wonderful hikes and bike rides yet to come.”

Next year, the campground will open Memorial Day weekend and close Columbus Day weekend.

This year, reservations are first-come, first-served. In 2016, the campground will be part of the National Park Service reservation system.

According to the property transfer recorded with the Hancock County Registry of Deeds on Aug. 14, Schoodic Woods LLC transferred 1,400 acres to the National Park Foundation.

The campground and expanded trail system are expected to provide an economic development boost to the peninsula.

Steele said a motivating factor behind the campground was to extend visitors’ stays from a single day to two to three nights. He estimated the campground will bring about 300 additional people to the peninsula each day.

The park also is interested in alleviating the pressure of nearly 2 million visitors to the much larger section of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.

Among the early arrivals at Schoodic Woods Sept. 1 were Tim and Celeste Barr of Milford, N.H.

They said the sites are well groomed, offer a measure of privacy and, most importantly for tent campers such as themselves, are flat.

The Barrs were originally headed to Acadia National Park on MDI when Celeste spotted the new campground on the Park Service website.

“We like being off the beaten path,” Celeste said.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]

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