BAR HARBOR — Friends of Acadia (FOA) announced an ambitious $25 million fundraising campaign at its annual meeting here on July 8. Unveiled at a celebration of Acadia National Park’s 100th birthday, the Second Century Campaign will aid the park in addressing future challenges including preserving wild Acadia, ensuring a quality visitor experience, encouraging youth to connect to the natural world and to steward resources, maintaining the high quality of carriage roads and trails and increasing FOA’s endowment. The group already has raised, or has pledges for, $20 million of that goal.
The effort includes a $5 million challenge grant from The Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, a challenge grant inspired by FOA board member Andrew Davis.
“While the board feels strongly that it is not FOA’s role to replace the government, it is committed to adding a margin of excellence in addressing the significant new issues that have arisen,” said FOA President David MacDonald.
Following the July 8 meeting, MacDonald said FOA would be “reaching out broadly to engage as many people as we can” in seeking the additional $5 million by the end of 2016. “What is important,” MacDonald continued, “is that we have gifts large and small from throughout the Acadia community, not only to reach a financial goal but to get people more involved in caring for and sustaining the park we all love.”
The first gift to the campaign came from David Rockefeller, who along with former Sen. George Mitchell, are the honorary co-chairs of the Second Century Campaign. The campaign is chaired by Anne Green, Bob Leary and Ann Rockefeller Roberts.
At the annual meeting, Mitchell spoke of the tremendous contribution of the Rockefeller family to Acadia and noted that David Rockefeller follows the ethic and philanthropic commitment of his father. “Few families have done so much good and in so many places – the community, state and in all society,” said Mitchell. “Every one of us who has had the tremendous pleasure of walking, running, skiing, taking our kids out on the carriage road can now look forward to maintenance and even improvement for a very long time to come. We’re very fortunate, really, first to be Americans and second, being here, which gives us an opportunity for shelter, refuge and respite from the turbulence in our country and in the world.”
Roberts also acknowledged not only the outstanding work that already has been done but the honor she feels in being part of the Rockefeller family. “My uncle stepped into the shoes of those that went before him,” she said.
“We come together today to celebrate Acadia,” MacDonald said on Friday, “We come together to celebrate community, and we come together to honor those who came before – their foresight and generosity.”
“Today is the first day of Acadia’s second century, and we want you to think about that and think about how you can be involved. This is a time and a place when people and ideas and resources and passion will come together to blaze new trails in conservation.”
The $6 million earmarked for Wild Acadia will help the park and its partners restore key watersheds – watersheds compromised by invasive species, threats to water quality and barriers to stream flow that prevent fish passage.
Another $6 million will be allocated to the visitor experience. Increases in visitation have stretched park resources and at times has forced the park to close the Cadillac Mountain Road. With funding from this campaign, FOA and the park will develop new visitation and transportation practices to address these challenges, for Acadia’s future depends on it.
As Green noted in her remarks, bridging the next generation is key, for if youths are not connected to the park experience and do not assume a commitment to steward park resources in the next century, parks will lose. The $6 million allocated for tomorrow’s stewards will fund youth internships and create opportunities for teachers to bring students into the park.
Although previous public-private partnerships between FOA and the federal government have raised endowments to maintain Acadia’s 45 miles of carriage roads and 130 miles of hiking trails, the increased public use of these resources – a use that is growing continually – will require additional endowment funds.
Because 90 percent of FOA’s assets are restricted to specific projects and since there is no endowment to support the ongoing work of conserving park resources, the campaign has allocated $3 million to ensure that FOA has a stable and sustainable base of financial support for future work.
At the annual meeting, Conservation Director Stephanie Clement said FOA contributed over $2 million last year to fund projects in Acadia and local communities. FOA’s volunteers contributed more than 16,000 hours for a variety of projects: trail and carriage road maintenance, Wild Gardens of Acadia, membership recruitment, Earth Day clean-up, grooming winter trails and fostering Acadia Centennial events and projects.
This story was updated Wednesday, July 13 at 10:00 a.m.