May 17, 2018
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, and Susan Collins (R-Maine) applauded the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s passage of their bill 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.
“For years, Maine clammers and wormers have relied on the flats of the intertidal zone at Acadia to earn a living and provide for their family,” said Senators King and Collins in a joint statement. “Our legislation will ensure that the federal government does not interfere with this longstanding right and finds commonsense solutions for the communities surrounding Acadia. We are pleased by today’s step forward, and will continue pushing for this legislative effort to address these lingering concerns once and for all.”
The legislation was introduced by Senators King and Susan Collins in November, and was supported by the National Park Service in a February hearing of the Subcommittee on National Parks. The bill underwent amendments during the Committee’s legislative markup in order to clarify its original intent. The next step for this legislation will be consideration before the full Senate. A companion bill introduced by Representatives Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree had previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but following amendment in the Senate, the new legislation must be reconsidered by the House.
In 2015, ANP was deeded more than 1,400 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula by an anonymous donor. This gift was welcomed by 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the legal authority they used for the transfer came from a 1929 law that many in the Bar Harbor area believed had been repealed in 1986, after successful efforts to pass a law that set boundary limits on the park.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 bases.
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 legislation 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, Senators King and Collins 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.