ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Park officials have received a go-ahead from the National Park Service in Washington to use park entrance fees to pay for plowing the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road and some trailhead parking areas if there is significant snowfall during the partial government shutdown.
Friends of Acadia (FOA) made the announcement in a press release Tuesday.
Most of the Park Loop Road is normally closed all winter, but one lane of the Ocean Drive section is plowed and kept open. But because the plow drivers are among the 75 park employees who have been furloughed by the shutdown, that section of road has been closed several times in the last few weeks due to hazardous conditions.
A separate agreement with the National Park Service will permit members of the Acadia Winter Trails Association (AWTA), which is sponsored by FOA, to groom about 30 miles of carriage roads for cross-country skiing. Under the agreement, the trail grooming by AWTA volunteers is considered an in-kind donation.
The agreement, which is good for up to 90 days, was signed by Gay Vietzke, director of the National Park Service’s northeast region. It acknowledges that visitors “through their economic activity play a vital role in the economics and well-being of towns, businesses and cities located near Acadia National Park.”
This agreement is an exception to the rules of the government shutdown, which, in general, prevented volunteers from working in national parks while most of the parks’ employees were furloughed.
“We heard from a lot of community members who were surprised that the shutdown would also preclude volunteerism,” said FOA President and CEO David MacDonald.
“FOA appreciates the efforts of Acadia National Park to pursue this agreement, and we are pleased that our dedicated volunteers will now be able to resume providing services to the park and its winter visitors.”
Trail grooming only occurs when there is sufficient snowpack, and that has not been the case so far this winter. Ski grooming updates are posted regularly on FOA’s Facebook page.
FOA also has posted other information about visiting Acadia during the shutdown on its Facebook page and its website, friendsofacadia.org.
MacDonald said that, so far this winter, visitors to Acadia have been respectful of the park and that there have been no reports of problems involving trash or damage to park property.
“We ask the public to use extreme care when out in Acadia in the coming days to avoid undue demands on the very few rangers still on the job to ensure public safety,” MacDonald said.