Otter Creek causeway. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Feds asked to redesign or replace causeway 

MOUNT DESERT — The Select Board here has asked members of Maine’s congressional delegation to request that the Department of the Interior help resolve the problem of inadequate tidal flushing of water in and out of the Otter Creek Inner Harbor. 

The problem appears to be the causeway that carries the Acadia National Park Loop Road across the harbor. The archways that are supposed to let water flow through the causeway are too small. Aquatic life in the inner harbor has been greatly reduced over the decades because the water there is not adequately refreshed. 

In letters to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Jared Golden, drafted by Town Manager Durlin Lunt, the Select Board asked that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland be made aware of the problem and that her department be asked to address it “either through structural design modifications or replacement of the current structure.” 

The causeway was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and built by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in 1938. The causeway was originally intended to impound water in the inner harbor, creating a saltwater swimming pool warmed by the sun, purportedly for use by wealthy summer residents. 

“It is highly unlikely that such a structure would be allowed to be built today due to very strong environmental regulations designed to protect natural resources such as Otter Creek Harbor,” Lunt’s letter stated. 

At the same time, Mount Desert and Acadia are studying the health of the inner harbor with scientific support from the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEE), a program of the American Geophysical Union. Town and park officials applied for TEE assistance last year to help determine the cause of the decline in the health of the inner harbor and how conditions there can be improved. 


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]
Dick Broom

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