February 14, 2018
WASHINGTON D.C. – In his inaugural hearing as Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today underscored the importance of legislation that would help address the concerns of communities near Acadia National Park (ANP) about boundary issues and the use of intertidal zones by harvesters of clams and worms. The legislation was introduced by Senators King and Susan Collins in November and a companion bill was also introduced by Representatives Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree in the U.S. House of Representatives. In response to Senator King’s remarks, Maine-born P. Dan Smith, Deputy Director of National Park Service, committed his agency’s support for the Acadia boundary bill.
“Director Smith, I also welcome you to the committee today, I appreciate your testimony on the pending legislation, and appreciate the work you’ve done for many years,” Senator King said. “One of the issues I’m going to be talking about is Acadia National Park and you worked on that issue in 1986, and it’s a delight to have you here with your expertise and history.
“The Park Service and the Department of Interior have been working with me for some time to address concerns about this legislation involving Acadia. I know that both the Administration and the Maine delegation are dedicated to preserving and continuously improving Acadia National Park, one of the crown jewels of the National Park System. I think the changes we’ve made in this legislation appropriately take care of a number of issues at the Park.
“Importantly, the bill addresses the concern from local neighbors about the Park and about the boundaries by protecting the traditional activities of clammers and wormers near the Park, and it also addresses an assortment of other issues that were bound to arise between close neighbors who’ve been in proximity for 100 years.”
“The Department supports the following bills: S 2102, which would confirm in statute that the boundary of Acadia National Park includes Schoodic woods property that was donated in 2015,” said P. Dan Smith, Deputy Director of the National Park Service in his opening testimony. “The bill would strictly limit future boundary adjustments and it would allow traditional harvesting of marine species in the Park.”
In 2015, ANP was deeded more than 1,400 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula by an anonymous donor. This was a welcome gift from the local towns and communities. It was only after the land was transferred to ANP that the NPS informed the public that the legal authority they used for the transfer came from a 1929 law that many in the Bar Harbor area believed had been repealed in 1986, after successful efforts to pass a law that set boundary limits on the park. The boundary law was crafted due to growing concerns about the size of the park and its impact on the tax base.
Further, harvesters of clams and worms in the intertidal zone near Acadia National Park raised concerns that they would not be able to continue their traditional harvesting due to enforcement measures taken by the National Park Service. While the NPS has currently come to an agreement to allow these traditional harvests to continue, this law would ensure that this traditional harvest can continue uninhibited into the future.
The bill originated when the local towns and residents voiced concern upon learning that ANP relied on the 1929 law for the Schoodic transfer because it could potentially set precedent for the NPS to use it again. Residents contacted the Maine Congressional delegation to express their concern and request for a repeal of the 1929 law, while at the same time keeping the Schoodic land transfer. In July 2016, Senator King introduced a bill in the Senate to resolve the issue. Later, the bill was amended to address other concerns regarding Acadia National Park, including lifting restrictions on a parcel in Tremont and allowing for traditional harvesting of clams and worms to continue.
Senator King was named Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Parks at the end of January 2018. Jurisdiction of the Subcommittee includes oversight and legislative responsibilities for: National Park System; Wild and Scenic Rivers System; National Trails System; national recreation areas; national monuments; historic sites; military parks and battlefields; Land and Water Conservation Fund; historic preservation; outdoor recreation resources; and preservation of prehistoric ruins and objects of interest on the public domain.