ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Acadia wants to be able to make minor adjustments to its boundary without having to get congressional approval.
A bill currently inching its way through Congress would validate Acadia’s annexation of 1,441 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula, including the Schoodic Woods Campground, in 2015, but it would prohibit any future expansion of the park or other alterations of its boundary.
Acadia and National Park Service (NPS) officials support the bill but would like for the park to 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,” Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Acadia Advisory Commission last week.
“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 highway realignments also could necessitate minor boundary adjustments.
He 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.”
In January, identical Acadia boundary bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House by Maine Sen. Angus King and 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin. The bills were prompted by the claims of area public officials and others that the Schoodic land acquisition was invalid because it had not been approved by Congress.
“We recognize there has been some concern about … the park sort of unilaterally changing the boundary,” Schneider said, emphasizing that the park is seeking the authority to make only very minor boundary changes.
The Advisory Commission voted to support the park’s request.
Robert Vogel, acting deputy director of the NPS, formally requested the boundary flexibility provision when he testified in July before the Subcommittee on National Parks of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
He said Acadia should have the authority “to exchange land within a park boundary for land outside the boundary, subject to strict requirements.”
“This authority would assure Acadia has the same ability as nearly every other national park to address encroachments due to mistaken surveys, rationalize boundary lines and otherwise resolve real-world land ownership dilemmas … .”
King is a member of the National Parks Subcommittee.
Poliquin’s office said Monday that the congressman this week will ask the House Committee on Natural Resources to hold a hearing on his Acadia boundary bill.