U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Representatives Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree today announced they have introduced companion legislation in both the Senate and the House 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 bill reflects feedback from the local community on the legislation introduced by the Maine Delegation in January 2017.
“For generations, Maine harvesters and wormers have provided for their families on the flats of Acadia’s intertidal zones,” Senators Collins and King and Representatives Golden and Pingree said in a joint statement. “These companion bills build on feedback from the local community to find a solution that protects local people and longstanding local rights and ensures the National Park Service remains a good neighbor to its surrounding communities.
The legislation will also address a wide range of issues related to Acadia, including:
Allowing for the 2015 Schoodic Woods land transfer to the NPS while making clear that the 1986 boundary law remains permanent.
Ensuring that traditional uses of the intertidal zone are protected and harvesters’ rights upheld.
Responding to community concerns on correcting park boundary survey errors.
Making permanent the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, which ensures important local input in park issues.
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the legal authority they used for the transfer came from a 1929 law that many in the Bar Harbor area believed had been repealed in 1986, after successful efforts to pass a law that set boundary limits on the park.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 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 were extremely concerned when they learned 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. The bill was later 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.