Boundary bills still stuck in Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bills validating the park’s 2015 annexation of 1,441 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula, including the Schoodic Woods Campground, are still stuck in committees in the U.S. House and Senate.

Last June, Maine Sen. Angus King introduced a bill to make the annexation legal, but also to clarify that there could be no further expansion of the park beyond the permanent boundaries that Congress established in 1986.

Although no one publicly opposed the Schoodic expansion, many people in the area maintained that the National Park Service violated the 1986 law by annexing the property without congressional approval, and they feared that it might set a precedent. The land was not on the limited list of acquisitions drafted in 1986.

Second District Rep. Bruce Poliquin introduced a bill similar to King’s in the U.S. House last September. Both bills died because they were not acted on before Congress adjourned in December.

The King and Poliquin bills also would affirm the right of clam and worm harvesters to dig in the intertidal zone adjacent to Acadia, provide for the Department of the Interior to give $350,000 to the Acadia Disposal District for solid waste management and make permanent the Acadia Advisory Commission. Also, the bills would amend the “reverter clause” in the deed to property at the Tremont Consolidated School so that if the land were no longer used for a school, the town would not have to give it back to Acadia as long as it was used for some “public purpose.”

Following adjournment, King and Poliquin reconciled the slight differences in their bills, and in late January, both introduced the Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act.

Poliquin’s bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee. King’s bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. No action has been taken on either bill.

King spokesman Scott Ogden told the Islander in an email last week that the senator is “working closely with [committee] Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to have [the bill] placed on the committee’s agenda for consideration as soon as possible.”

Ogden said King “welcomed” the addition of the Schoodic Woods land to Acadia, “but he would also like to ensure that the transfer is done in accordance with the 1986 law governing the boundary of the park.”

He said the senator is eager to work with his Senate colleagues and with Poliquin “to find a path forward for this bill.”

Poliquin’s spokesman, Brendan Conley, said in an email that the congressman is continuing to work with his House colleagues and King to move the legislation forward.

“Congressman Poliquin certainly understands how important this issue is for the community, and it is a top priority for him,” Conley said.

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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