Acadia cuts services because of budget cuts
BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — The Park Loop Road and the road leading to the summit of Cadillac Mountain will open a month later than usual this spring because of federal budget cuts, Acadia National Park announced Tuesday.
Acadia is facing a $390,000 cut, or 5 percent of its $7.8 million budget, because of the series of automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.”
As a result, the park will extend the winter closure of its facilities for one month. The Park Loop Road, the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road and the Hulls Cove Visitor Center will open May 19 instead of April 15. The 27-mile Park Loop Road is the main road through the park, but a small section of it remains open through the winter.
The park also plans to offer fewer free ranger-led programs and school education programs, cut seasonal staffing and reduce the hours of operation at the visitor center and the Islesford Historical Society.
The park had already reduced spending for travel, training, overtime and supplies because of budget cuts in 2011 and 2012. The only remaining alternative to achieve the newest cuts was to reduce the level of visitor services, Deputy Superintendent Len Bobinchock said.
“We’ve never had to go to this level before in terms of reducing visitor services,” Bobinchock said. “It’s not the first time the park has struggled to provide all the visitor services we would like, but in my 20 years we’ve never had to delay opening the park.”
Opening the facilities later in the spring has less of an impact on visitors than closing them earlier in the fall, he said.
The park gets about 220,000 visitors in April and May, and 650,000 in September and October. It had about 2.4 million visitors last year.
Although some of the park’s roads and the visitor center are opening later than usual and programs are being cut, the park itself is still open to visitors.
A roughly 2-mile section of Park Loop Road from the entrance station to Otter Cliff Road — a section that includes Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff — is open, and people can ride bicycles or walk on the rest of the road.
Hiking trails are also open, and the 45-mile network of carriage roads will open to walkers, bicyclists and horseback riders when conditions warrant.