ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The National Park Service (NPS) received about 500 comments directly from individuals and organizations on Acadia’s draft transportation plan during the 60-day public comment period that ended June 26.
In addition to those, about 6,000 comments were submitted by members of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) through its website. The NPCA is a private advocacy group for national parks. The NPCA had sent a notice about Acadia’s transportation plan to its members and urged them to “tell NPS you support its plan to protect Acadia and its visitors by better managing traffic and reducing congestion in the park.”
The NPCA provided a form letter that members could send. It read, in part, “As more people learn to cherish Acadia, the park’s landscape, wildlife and visitors are increasingly impacted by vehicle congestion, which has increased by 60 percent over the past decade. With more cars in the park than ever before, popular sites like Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond are bottlenecked by vehicle traffic.”
The draft transportation plan that Acadia officials have presented as their “preferred alternative” proposes a reservation system for using the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road, the Cadillac summit road and the North parking lot at Jordan Pond during peak visitation times.
The form letter that the NPCA suggested its members send states, “I support the National Park Service’s preferred parking reservation system to manage Acadia’s parking lot congestion. Parking reservations are an important tool to protect park ecosystems while providing public access.”
The NPCA encouraged its members to modify or add to the form letter, saying, “A personalized comment is especially effective.”
Acadia officials said that about 250 of the comments sent through the NPCA were personalized to at least some extent.
NPS officials have determined that comments submitted by individuals should not be made public because doing so could be a violation of the federal Privacy Act.
Over the next couple of months, Acadia officials plan to analyze the public comments and group them into “statements of concern,” such as what people think of the proposed reservation system.
Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider said the preferred alternative transportation plan likely will be adjusted or “tweaked a little bit” based on the public comments. He said the goal is to finalize the plan by early next year.