MOUNT DESERT — Town manager Durlin Lunt didn’t mince words in his latest update on the study of the health of the Otter Creek inner harbor.
The town is partnering with Acadia National Park and two area scientists to determine why the health of the inner harbor is so degraded and what can be done to improve it.
Lunt said the causeway that carries Acadia’s Park Loop Road across the harbor is undoubtedly the major cause of the problem. The causeway was built by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in 1938. There are three small archways through the causeway to allow water to flow between the inner and outer harbors, but they are inadequate.
“The causeway was designed the way it is for all the wrong reasons,” Lunt said in his update on the situation last week. “Its design was to limit tidal flow to build a swimming pool in a beautiful natural resource. Summer residents in Seal Harbor apparently believed that this would decrease the usage of Seal Harbor Beach.
“This structure could not be permitted today. A past wrong needs to be corrected, particularly by a governmental entity such as the Interior Department, charged with wise stewardship of precious environmental resources. This structure makes a mockery of the conservation ethos of the National Park Service, a tragic blight on Acadia National Park.
“It is the policy of the town to press the causeway issue until it is either replaced or rebuilt in such a way as to remove the tidal constriction,” Lunt said.
The scientists who are working with the town and the park on this project are Chris Peterson, professor of biology and ecology at College of the Atlantic, and Hannah Webber, marine ecology director at the Schoodic Institute.