Clamming in the Acadia National Park intertidal zone will be allowed officially if a new boundary bill becomes law. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

New bills would OK Acadia boundary shifts



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minor adjustments to Acadia National Park’s boundary would be permitted under bills introduced last week in the U.S. House and Senate.

The identical bills submitted by Maine Sen. Angus King and 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin replace similar bills they introduced in January. The new version would still validate Acadia’s annexation of 1,441 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula in 2015, restrict future expansion of the park’s boundary and allow for the harvesting of clams and worms in the park’s intertidal zone.

King and Poliquin said in press releases issued jointly with Sen. Susan Collins and 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree last Thursday that the new bill “reflects feedback from the local community on the [original] legislation.”

Acadia and National Park Service officials have expressed support for the intent of the original bill, which would prohibit any future expansion of the park without congressional approval. But they said the park should have the same boundary adjustment wiggle room that most other national parks have.

“There are a number of situations where we have issues with landowners that abut the park and need to make a small adjustment to the boundary,” Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Acadia Advisory Commission in September.

“There have been cases where someone developed their property and realized later that their survey was bad and they were encroaching upon the park. There are other instances where a property owner has a parcel they are not able to fully develop because part of it is within the park’s boundary, so that creates a sort of management nightmare for them.”

Schneider said the park would like the flexibility to work with private landowners to resolve those kinds of issues.

“As a park that’s surrounded 100 percent by private land, there are always real-world issues that arise, so we want to have the ability to be a good neighbor.”

The Advisory Commission voted to support the park’s request.

The newly introduced Acadia boundary bills would allow the secretary of the interior to make “technical revisions” to the park’s boundary to resolve “issues resulting from causes such as survey error or changed road alignments.”

The secretary also could approve boundary revisions “to take into account acquisitions or losses by exchange, donation or purchase … of land adjacent to or within the park … in any case in which the total acreage of the land to be acquired or lost is less than 10 acres.”

The proposed law also provides that any such boundary revisions, taken collectively, could not increase the size of the park by more than 100 acres.

Before approving any Acadia boundary revision, the secretary of the interior would have to certify that it “will contribute to, and is necessary for, the proper preservation, protection, interpretation or management of the park.”

The secretary also would have to consult with “the governing body of each county, city [or] town … with primary taxing authority over the land to be acquired regarding the impacts of the proposed boundary revision.”

The House Natural Resources Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on Poliquin’s revised Acadia boundary bill yesterday (Wednesday).

Like the original bills introduced in January, the new ones would allow for “the traditional harvesting or marine worms, clams [and] other shellfish … within the boundaries of the park.”

Currently, such harvesting is prohibited in the park’s intertidal zones, but the park has not been enforcing the ban pending congressional action on the issue.

In February, the Acadia Advisory Commission voted to ask Maine’s congressional delegation to amend the bills to specifically prohibit seaweed harvesting inside the park. However, no such prohibition is included in the new bills.

Advisory Commission member Ben Emory said at the February meeting that he had seen the “aggressive” harvesting of rockweed along parts of the Downeast coast, and that it should not be permitted in Acadia.

“It’s just too industrial,” he said.

 

 

 

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]

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