Tipping point

To the Editor:

I would like to commend the National Park Service for sharing their preliminary plans for managing visitation and congestion in Acadia National Park. They have put together thoughtful and well-articulated proposals for the community to consider. Shocking, yes! It’s hard to imagine needing to make reservations to travel in our own backyards (so to speak) or to no longer enjoy existing access points to park entrance roads.

As we consider the steps the park is suggesting as viable options for our island, we need to seriously ask ourselves as a community if this envisioned future is inevitable or … might it be avoidable?

Notably missing from the conversation and from media coverage has been Bar Harbor’s (and the island’s) role and responsibility in creating and encouraging this gross overuse of resources.

Largely unaddressed have been any local complementary management plans to confront this problem. Instead, the focus centers on celebrating record-breaking milestones; occupancy rates, commercial sales and cruise ship arrivals.

The balance between commercial and residential interests is a fragile one; “progress” has many definitions. Unrestrained growth is not responsible stewardship, nor is it the sole responsibility of Acadia National Park.

It appears we have reached our tipping point. There is little doubt that this summer was impossibly and uncomfortably overcrowded for residents and tourists alike. The autumn brought little relief. When our carrying capacity has been exceeded, when we have overbuilt and overadvertised our environs to the point of damaging the very reasons many of us have chosen to live here, it is time to stop and determine what we as a community want our future to be.

It has been interesting this centennial year to reflect on the vision and values of those who first conceived of and orchestrated the preservation and development of this unique area. The future is in our hands; the question is, what are we going to do about it?

Ellen Grover

Bar Harbor

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