ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — It isn’t clear what legal process will be used by park officials to annex 1,600 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula that includes the new Schoodic Woods Campground.
This summer, the property was donated to the National Park Foundation, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, with the idea that ownership would be transferred to Acadia at some point. It is adjacent to the Schoodic section of the park.
“The donor…would like it to become part of Acadia, and I’m trying to start to put the wheels in motion to do that,” park Superintendent Sheridan Steele said in July. “I hope before the fall is over to change the boundary and put that land into Acadia National Park.”
But exactly how to accomplish that remains to be sorted out.
The 1986 federal legislation that established Acadia’s permanent boundaries made no provision for the park to purchase or accept gifts of land outside those specifically listed in what was called at the time the “Master Plan” bill.
However, some have made reference to Lafayette 1919 Act, a federal law that changed the status of Sieur de Monts National Monument on Mount Desert Island to Lafayette National Park, which was later renamed Acadia. That law authorized the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to accept “donations for the extension or improvement of the park.”
Lawyers have been looking into whether the 1919 law still applies because it was never actually repealed, and whether it was superseded by the 1986 boundary legislation, which does not provide for the park’s expansion.
“The solicitors are still debating how best to accept that gift [of Schoodic land], and I don’t know when they will decide on the approach to use,” Steele said in an email last week. “This… likely will happen after I retire.”
His last day on the job will be Oct. 30.
Schoodic Woods Campground opened Sept. 1 and closed for the season on Tuesday. It has 50 campsites for tents and small campers, 33 RV sites, nine hike-to sites and two group camping sites that accommodate about 25 people each. There also is a ranger station and a 100-seat amphitheater.
The property also has four miles of new hiking trails and more than eight miles of new bike paths.
The campground and other facilities are built to National Park Service standards, and Acadia operates the campground and manages the land as if it were part of the park.
“Since we agreed to operate it, it only makes sense to make it part of the park,” Steele said in July.
The parcel was purchased in 2011 by Schoodic Woods LLC. That corporation, established by Lyme Timber Co. and a private family foundation, built the campground and donated the property to the National Park Foundation.