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March 14, 2019

New law resolves years-old Acadia acquisition of Schoodic land

Courtesy / Friends of Acadia
Courtesy / Friends of Acadia
New federal legislation includes the affirmation of the addition of Schoodic Woods Campground. U.S. Senator Angus King, second from left, is seen in September 2015 cuts the ribbon to officially open the campground.

Legislation that was signed into law Tuesday will resolve a years-long issue related to Acadia National Park accepting hundreds of acres on the Schoodic Peninsula, as well as affirm traditional clam and worm harvesting in the park.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump Tuesday, provides authority related to public land management and natural resources. It was formerly called the Natural Resources Management Act.

The law also allows permanent reauthorization of the Acadia Advisory Commission, which includes members from towns abutting the park, according to a March 13 Friends of Acadia news release.

The legislation was included as part of a public lands package under consideration by the Senate in December, but expired at the end of the Congress before it could be passed and signed into law. It was reintroduced by U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins in January.

Language written by King and Collins was designed to resolve an issue surrounding more than 1,400 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula deeded to the park in 2015 by an anonymous donor. The National Park Service subsequently determined that the legal authority used for the transfer was based on a 1929 law that had been repealed in 1986, when a new law set boundary limits on the park.

Residents contacted the Maine congressional delegation to request a repeal of the 1929, law but also keep the Schoodic land transfer.

Further, harvesters of clams and worms in the intertidal zone near Acadia raised concerns that they would not be able to continue their traditional harvesting because of enforcement measures taken by the National Park Service. The legislation was written to ensure the harvest can continue uninhibited into the future.

"All of us at Friends of Acadia applaud the adoption of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation and Management and Recreation Act," Friends of Acadia Conservation Director Stephanie Clement said in a news release.

The bill also permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is available to national parks, states and communities to acquire and preserve lands for wildlife habitat and recreation, Clement said.

On Mount Desert Island, the fund has been used by Acadia to acquire privately held lands inside park boundaries as they are offered by willing sellers. It has also been used by Hancock County towns to build boat ramps, improve local parks and establish recreational facilities.

Clement said that the Friends of Acadia thanks King, Collins, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Jared Golden, D-2nd District, "for their shepherding of the act through the legislative process."

Clement said the act also extends a program making free entrance passes to national parks and public lands available to all fourth-grade students and their families.

"This is invaluable to helping share Acadia with the next generation of park stewards," Clement said.

Friends of Acadia preserves, protects, and promotes stewardship of the natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Acadia National Park and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of current and future generations.

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