Here we are at Memorial Day weekend 2018, and the start of another very busy, and perhaps record-breaking, tourist season is upon us! Visitation to the park and to other areas of Mount Desert Island has increased dramatically over the past two years as a result of the publicity around Acadia's 100th birthday in 2016. It has now reached a point where the carrying capacity of this scenic national treasure has become a serious issue requiring immediate attention!
For its part, the National Park Service is fully engaged in developing a major transportation plan which, hopefully, will protect the resource while at the same time allowing as much public access as is reasonably possible. Very preliminary alternatives have been recently released for public comment. But the congestion problems are certainly not limited to popular areas inside the boundary of Acadia National Park. A major concern is the town of Bar Harbor itself, where parking is almost impossible, and streets are dangerously narrow as a result of large vehicles left as much as 2 or 3 feet away from the curb. Further, the dramatic increase in visitation by as many as 150 huge cruise ships makes sidewalks virtually impassable, while tour buses clog downtown streets as they go to and from Bar Harbor's Town Pier. Local residents now tend to avoid Bar Harbor as much as possible during the peak season summer months, and some in-town B&B's report negative reactions from customers who expect a quieter and less crowded vacation spot.
Clearly, something has to be done, because we are rapidly killing the “goose that lays the golden egg”.
Here at MountDesertIsland.Net we tend to instinctively dislike heavy government regulation, and we also are uncomfortable paying to visit properties which we supposedly already own, and on which maintenance is, or should be, covered by broad based taxation. On the other hand, we realize that it is very possible to love Acadia and Mount Desert Island to death – and that is a result no one wishes to ever see. All of us with a stake in this spectacularly beautiful and unique place must work together seriously and cooperatively to limit visitation by both land and sea at levels that are sustainable over the long term. Solutions involving greater regulation and reasonable visitor fees must be considered as a part of the plan.