ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The 114th Congress adjourned last week without taking action to clarify the boundary of the park on the Schoodic Peninsula.
But boundary legislation is to be re-introduced in the House and Senate when the next Congress convenes in January.
Maine Sen. Angus King introduced a bill in June to validate Acadia’s 2015 annexation of 1,441 acres, including the Schoodic Woods Campground. It was co-sponsored by Maine Sen. Susan Collins. The bill was endorsed July 13 by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has since been folded into the omnibus North American Energy and Security Act.
In September, Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin introduced a bill similar to King’s. It was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Federal Lands.
Poliquin spokesman Brendan Conley said the representative plans to reintroduce the bill when the 115th Congress goes into session Jan. 3.
“This is going to be one of our top legislative priorities for the next Congress,” he said. “It is something the congressman is very much interested in pushing through, and quickly.”
Poliquin’s bill would “confirm” Acadia’s controversial annexation of the Schoodic land while explicitly prohibiting any future expansion of the park beyond the boundary established by Congress in 1986.
The bill also addresses several other issues related to the park’s jurisdiction. It would allow the commercial as well as recreational digging of clams and worms in the intertidal zone adjacent to national park property. Commercial clamming and worming is currently prohibited.
Poliquin’s bill also would have the Department of the Interior (DOI) give $350,000 to the Acadia Disposal District to help support solid waste disposal and recycling in area communities. That would remove a condition of a 30-year-old law that acknowledged Acadia should contribute to the management of Mount Desert Island’s solid waste stream. That bill directed the National Park Service to convey a 55-acre parcel of land in the village of Town Hill to the town of Bar Harbor for the purpose of building a regional solid waste transfer station, and it provided that the DOI would contribute half, up to $350,000, toward the cost of building such a facility.
But it became clear years ago that, for several reasons, the Town Hill site was unsuitable for a transfer station.
Both the Poliquin and King bills would amend the so-called “reverter clause” in the deed to the Tremont Consolidated School.
In 1950, Acadia transferred land for construction of the school to the town of Tremont. The deed provided that if the land was ever to be used for anything other than “school purposes,” it would revert to Acadia.
The new bills would require only that the land must remain in public ownership and be used for “recreational, educational or similar public purposes.”
The Poliquin and King bills also would make permanent the Acadia Advisory Commission, the citizens’ panel that serves as a liaison between the park and its neighboring communities.
King spokesman Scott Ogden said the senator remains strongly committed to resolving the Acadia boundary and associated issues and that his office will continue to work with Poliquin’s to assure passage of legislation to achieve that goal.