To the Editor:
Mount Desert Island is so blessed to have an amazing running community and a beautiful and well managed park to enjoy our sport.
It was with great disappointment to hear that one of the top runners in our area was issued a court summons for “organizing” a group run up Cadillac Mountain at midnight on Aug. 13.
The ticket was for running an organized non-competitive running event in Acadia National Park without a special use permit. The “event” was coordinated via Facebook groups and seven runners total attended. That is smaller than some families who visit the park. All of the runners knew each other prior to the event. They were not strangers.
As a runner, conservationist and park user, this has me very concerned. This group of runners did not cause injury or damage to the park resources. They did not impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic or commemorative zones. They did not interfere with interpretive, visitor service or other program activities, or with the administrative activities of the National Park Service or hinder the operation of public use facilities.
This group did not present a clear and present danger to the public health and safety, and there was no significant conflict with other existing uses.
After speaking with National Park Service law enforcement staff the following day, there were no clear answers concerning group sizes, just an indication that any effort to bring together people for a common activity in the park constitutes “organization.”
The special use permit fee of $50 is non-refundable. By its very nature, that discourages the user from finding out whether their group needs a permit.
While I do not consider park staff to be unreasonable in their management of Acadia overall, I am disappointed in their decision to begin ticketing groups of people who use the park for healthy recreation on a year-round basis in small groups. Running is not a crime!