During the 13-day government shutdown in 2013, then-National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis made the decision to close the national parks. “The logic was that if the employees were furloughed and could not perform their stewardship and safety responsibilities,” he wrote in a recent op-ed in The Guardian, then the only way to protect the parks was to close them.
This time around, the Trump administration has opted to keep the parks open, perhaps to prevent the public outcry that became one of the faces of that shutdown. “Leaving the parks open without … essential staff is equivalent to leaving the Smithsonian museums open without any staff to protect the priceless artifacts,” Jarvis wrote. “Yet as a result of the government shutdown, which furloughed most park staff, this is what has happened.”
Acadia seems to have escaped the worst consequences that other parks have seen — unauthorized drone activity, artifact theft, accumulating trash and worse. Perhaps this is because this park is so intertwined with non-federal lands and local communities. In normal times, local residents viewing the park as our own backyard can be a headache for the park service. But it seems also to foster the citizen stewardship and mutual aid that makes government shutdowns just a tad less painful.