New Friends of Acadia leader addresses the future 

Eric Stiles

BAR HARBOR — Eric Stiles started his new job as president and CEO of Friends of Acadia on June 30 and had planned to talk about FOA’s vision for the future at the organization’s annual meeting July 6 at the Bar Harbor Club. 

But he wasn’t able to attend because of a family emergency. 

Last Friday, he gave the Islander a glimpse of what he had wanted to tell FOA members and the community. 

“There are immense challenges facing us in the Mount Desert Island and Schoodic community,” he said. “But what’s really exciting is the vision for immense solutions. And those solutions are really to everyone’s benefit with very little trade-off.” 

Stiles said one of the park’s challenges is improving diversity and inclusion. 

“Having a high quality, welcoming experience in nature should be a fundamental human right,” he said. “But for many there are barriers. 

“Our national parks are meant to serve the nation. How can we do that in a more inclusive and equitable manner and make sure there aren’t segments of folks who are left out? 

“At the same time, we need to be good stewards for the park. So, it’s not that we’re trying to increase visitorship. It’s making sure the visitorship is truly reflective of the diversity of our great nation.” 

Stiles said the lack of affordable housing for Acadia’s seasonal employees threatens to affect the park’s ability to fulfill its mission at the highest level of excellence. 

“If Acadia National Park is one of the nation’s gems, doesn’t it deserve the top talent in the country? But right now, the lack of affordable housing is a tremendous barrier. By addressing that and other barriers, we are trying to create a leveling of opportunities. Doing that means Acadia National Park will be able to recruit a more diverse talent pool.” 

Stiles said the challenges presented by climate change are “daunting,” and he stressed that they require visionary, long range solutions. 

“If we don’t engage in trying to be good stewards of the forests and the intertidal areas and our community with the mind’s eye to the future, we know we can’t succeed,” he said. 

“As sea level rise occurs, what do you do about Thunder Hole? You have that incredible iconic feature that’s going to be threatened by sea level rise. How do you approach that?  

“There are a lot of questions,” Stiles said. “But what excites me is the immensity of the solutions that are envisioned through the partnership of Friends of Acadia, Acadia National Park and the community.” 



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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