Letter to the Editor: Founders’ intentions

To the Editor:

The Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations (HCTR) was created by several conservation minded men at the end of the 19th century. Their purpose was to acquire and preserve beautiful lands for the enjoyment of future generations.

When they purchased large tracts of land, they made certain that they did not impinge on arable lands which were needed by the inhabitants in order to maintain themselves and their families.

Similarly, they did not shut off access to the waterfront so as to allow the fishermen among the inhabitants to continue securing their livelihood. There are HCTPR papers which state these intentions.

George Ledyard Stebbins of Seal Harbor was their treasurer and one of the men who negotiated purchases of large tracts of land for the Trustees. He was my grandfather, and was constantly making efforts to impact life for the inhabitants as little as possible.

Please see records of his actions in the Village of Seal Harbor, which he developed as a quiet summer resort for ministers, doctors, writers, academics, etc. with as little negative effect on the villagers as possible. He also made certain to include the needs of the villagers as a first priority.

When the lands held in trust by HCTPR were transferred to create the Lafayette National Park in 1916, it was with the understanding that the park would continue the policies of consideration for the inhabitants, many of whom had donated or sold some of their land to the Trustees.

The park, which was renamed Acadia National Park, is the only park in the National Park Service which exists primarily as the result of gifts of lands donated by private citizens.

Many descendants of those citizens still inhabit the lands of their ancestors. As such they deserve and need the protections originally afforded them by the Trustees.

In the case of the Village of Otter Creek, the current administration of Acadia National Park seems to be completely ignorant of these considerations. By restricting reasonable, year-round access to the waterfront, the park is ignoring the historic right of the fishermen and inhabitants of Otter Creek.

The park is negatively impacting the livelihood and local sovereignty of the citizens of Otter Creek by removing the safety handrails to the fishing dock; by denying the rights of vehicular egress through Blackwoods Campground; by refusing to recognize pollution of the inner harbor; by refusing to allow vista clearing at the town landing and by refusing to recognize any and all roads and paths in the village and withholding inhabitants’ rights to access and maintain said roads and paths.

This is contrary to the original intent of the Trustees, which should be binding upon the administrators of Acadia National Park.

The park’s administrators must cease and desist their continuing efforts to deny the Village of Otter Creek its traditional rights of access to the waterfront and related structures and areas.

Anne Stebbins Funderburk

formerly of Seal Harbor

currently of Scarborough

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