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This paper will discuss wilderness preservation in the Acadia National Park giving the park’s background information and statistics. We will further delve into the importance of water and land resources including park laws and policies in the park and lastly examine air pollution haze problem especially from the urban centers in northeast  of the country and the measure the government and the management are taking to stem the problem.

History and background information

Acadia national park is a national park located in the Maine state of the United States of America. Acadia national park is one of the busiest national parks in the US and has a rich history with natural resources. The first known resident of the Acadia area are the Wabanaki Indians who made their homes their more than 5, 000 years ago. In the year 1604, a Frenchman by the name Samuel Champlain did an expedition of the area. A dispute of the area between the French and English led to abandonment of the area for 150 years, it was later up to until 1800 that the area became popular to visitors and tourists.

The ethnography of the Wabanaki shows that Native Americans had occupied the area for several thousand years ago. The Wabanaki is a collective word from of today’s Maine four Indian tribes namely the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot which means people of the dawn or simply “Dawnland people.” Presently, the Acadia National Park lies in the center of the Wabanaki homeland which starts from Newfound in Canada to the Merrimac river valley in New Hampshire and into the Massachusetts. The first ethnographic study done of the Wabanaki was in the Mount Desert Island region and was completed in 2007 (U.S. National Park Service).

Although prehistoric records are scanty, deep shell heaps indicate American Indian encampments dating back to 6,000 years in the Acadia National Park. Maine coast Indians first written description were recorded 100 years after European trade contacts began and it described the American Indians who lived off the Acadia as hunters, fishermen, gatherers and used to collecting shellfish.  

The park stands in a region that was once the territory of France called La Cadie. Explored first by Samuel Chapman in 1604 when his boat crashed and required extensive repairs and as he remained stranded he led his party to explore the interior. There he encountered the Wabanaki and named the place Island of Deserts because he had seen it as barren and wasted from the sea. He developed interest in the area and later a French mission was set in the place. Finally the place fell into the hands of the British when a war between the British and French over control of the place in 1759 (History of Acadia).

The area was later toured by such millionaires like John D. Rockefeller and protected the area from any form of automobiles but built 57 miles of paths and 17 granite bridges and later donated about 44 miles of the paths, the bridges to the ANP and 11, 000 acres of his own land. Today the ANP occupies half the “Desert Island” and some other several smaller islands with other private estates and charming coastal villages.

Acadia national park is made up of a group of islands which are located on the eastern coast of Maine. The park borders Atlantic Ocean and also consists of many bodies of freshwater bodies, forests and various types of wildlife. The place has granite cliffs, cobblestone beaches and glazier carved mountains. The geography of ANP ranges from meadows and marshes to evergreen forests and it is protected by the National Park Service (NPS). Today the park stands on 35,000 acres with different pleasures of oceans, forest, lakes and mountains visited by millions of tourists every year (U.S. National Park Service).    

The park’s main features include the Cadillac Mountain which as the tallest mountain along the eastern coast. The park also has miles and miles of scenic nature and bike trails. The park offers different types of tours including bus and horse drawn carriage tours and ranger guided boat cruises.

Some of the significant happens in the park include a 1947 fire that lasted almost a month destroying more than 17,000 acres of land and causing damages worth more than $23 million. Several hotels, mansions, wildlife and vegetation were destroyed in the inferno. The more common fir and spruce that Acadia is made up of was replaced by seasonal birches and aspens.

In Maine, winters are usually long and therefore many people wait for Spring and this was true in 1947. The World War II had just ended and most people waited for a return of a nice weather. However, through the most of April till June it rained continually and at the end of June, the sun came out and it and thus summer emerged. But disappointingly, weather patterns that year continued to be odd and throughout the summer Maine received only 50 percent of its normal rainfall. This resulted to dry conditions and vegetation withered as water supply dwindled. People thought that the rains could come but the autumn rains never came. By mid-October, the Maine area of Mount Desert was experiencing one of the driest conditions ever and thus the stage was set for a disastrous blaze (U.S. National Park Service).

One Friday at around 4p.m the fire department was alerted of billowing smoke from a cranberry bog. No immediate cause of the fire was established but the fire smoldered underground and an inferno arose that went to burn nearly half of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island.  For the first three days, it affected only about 169 acres but this was to increase the following days when a strong wind fanned the flames. This made the fire to spread rapidly blazing over more than 2, 000 acres in October 21st. October 22nd and still the pace of the fire had intensified burning about 2,300 acres. Different personnel fire fighters were employed like the Coast Guard, University of Maine forestry program, Bangor Theological Seminary and Army Air Corps (U.S. National Park Service).

October 23 and the fire was still gutting down the forest although the wind had shifted its position towards Hulls Cove. The wind later turned its effort towards gale proportions toward Bar Harbor. The fire gutted millionaire’s Row, 67 seasonal estates, 170 permanent homes, and summer cottages on the shore of Frenchman Shore and some five big historic hotels in the Bar Harbor area. The fire also skirted the business district (U.S. National Park Service).

The fire continued to blaze the Bar Harbor area and razed down the coast to the Otter Point area destroying the Jackson laboratory. The fire even blew in a massive fireball over the ocean and continued to destroy properties. By October 27, the fire had destroyed another 2,000 acres of land when the fire was declared under control. But the fire was to continue till November 14 when it was pronounced completely out, weeks later after it was declared under control. The fire still smoldered below the ground as organic soil and vegetation on the floor of the forest and tree roots aided stubborn underground fires (U.S. National Park Service).

Effects of the fire

The total number of acres burned was about 17,188 with more than 10, 000 in Acadia National Park.  There were minimal human deaths, an unknown number of wild animals died in the blaze.

The forest that is there today was left to grow again naturally. Nature played an important role wind carried seeds into burned areas and deciduous trees regenerated. But altogether the forest cover changed from the fir and spruce trees to such trees like the birch and aspen. The fire also increased diversity in the forest and enhanced scenery to like instead of just a uniform evergreen forest, today there exist mixed and new diverse deciduous forest with different colors (U.S. National Park Service).

Acadia national park is one of the most visited parks in the US. Yearly records show more than 2 million vacationers visiting the scenic tourist spots with peak months being in July, August and September. Available statistics show that Acadia national park has more than 47,000 acres (thus protecting a big acreage of land). Out of these acres, 35,332 acres are owned by the national park service while the rest (12,416 acres) are owned privately and are under conservation easements managed by the National Park Service

Since early inception, the park has changed names three times:

July 8, 1916 its designation was known as Sieur de Monts National Monument

February 26, 1919 its name was changed to Lafayette National Park

And finally it came to be known as Acadia National Park in July 19, 1929 (U.S. National Park Service).

Acadian famous ties

Since its inception in the 1800s, Acadia national park has had the country’s rich and famous make a visit in and around the park. Some of the famous names that have set foot as tourists in the park include Henry Ford of the ford vehicles, William Howard, Stephen King, John Travolta, Kristie Alley and Martha Stewart (Contributor, An EHow).

ANP is home to about 40 different species of mammals. The common among them are the chipmunks, moose, porcupine, red & gray squirrels, black bears, bobcats, foxes and coyote. Some species that used to inhabit the area like gray wolves and the puma were forced to leave the area due to unsuitable conditions like poaching and proximity to human activity. Others include marine species. The 1947 fire permitted growth of new species of especially on the western side birch, alder and maple (Manville, Richard H. 1942, p391).

Importance of Water and Land Resources in Acadia

Granite rock underlines most of Arcadia National Park; this includes a huge chunk of the Mount Desert Island, the whole of the park that is situated on the Schoodic Peninsula and the Isle au Haut. The steep valleys and high elevations that give Acadia its rugged character are made up of granite which is resistant bedrock. These granitic rocks, however, vary slightly in terms of chemical composition, color, texture and percentages of the accessory minerals. In most of Mount Desert Island, the granite underneath is coarse grained, pink in color and has little amounts of biotite. The granite found in the Isle au Haut and at the Schoodic Peninsula is mainly biotite granite that is fine grained (U.S. National Park Service).

Bedrock made up of gabbro-diorite borders the granitic bedrock on the Isle au Haut and Mount Desert Island. The margin of the islands is made up of a variety of stratified rocks that are relatively older. Most of the shoreline of the Isle au Haut is made up of volcanic rocks. On the other hand, on Mount Desert Island, the rocks that make up the margin include; a siltstone/sandstone formation, felstine, a schist and sedimentary rocks.

Surface waters in Acadia have a characteristic low level of nutrient concentrations and also low alkalinity; this is as a result of the rapid run off of water and the chemically resistant granites. Marine aerosols made up of sodium and chlorine are the most prominent ions in most of Acadia’s surface waters and are responsible for over 50% of the conductivity of these waters (U.S. National Park Service).

Acadia’s topography is made up of a series of barren ridges that are separated by U-shaped valleys. Mountains in the park have an altitude of up to 464 m or 1,530 ft. Somes Sound is the centermost valley found on Mount Dessert Island; this valley is connected to the sea and its features are similar to that of a fjord.

The estuarine wetlands of Acadia consist of salt marshes, intertidal mud flats and coarse gravel shores. The estuarine waters typically act as a transition zone between fresh water and the sea environment. Acadia has a high tidal range of over 3m. /10 ft that is responsible for the creation of extensive mudflats that are both economically and ecologically important to the region (U.S. National Park Service).

The importance of soils in the hydrological environment cannot be under stated; they store and control the transport of water in addition to contributing dissolved organic carbon, anions and cations to both surface and ground water as a result of weathering processes and decomposition. Soils found in the valleys at Acadia are mostly sandy loams that originate from granite and schist tills. These soils vary in terms of drainage from excessively to moderately well drain with slopes of up to 60% and regolith depths of less than 5 or 15 ft. (Nature.nps.gov).

On bedrock where mineral soil is not present, Lithic Borofolists, which are organic soils, are quite common. These soils also vary in terms of drainage from excessively drained to poorly drained, this is dependent on orientation and slope. The drainage characteristic of the soil has a huge influence on the surface water chemistry and also greatly influences the type of vegetation to be found in the area. Organic soils are mostly found in wetlands, fibric peats can be found in raised bogs for example Big Heath which is adjacent to Southwest Harbor. Sapiric peats can be found in forested areas that may also have shrub fen (U.S. National Park Service).

Laws and Policies

The management of the Acadia National Park is guided by rules and regulations. Park rangers in Acadia are charged with the responsibility of enforcing some federal regulations such as the Code of Federal Regulations especially Title 36 (36 CFR) and also the United States Code; Titles 16, 18 & 21. Under the 36 CFR, park superintendents are granted authority to formulate regulations that are specific to Acadia National Park so as to maintain the safety and health of the public, protect the environment and scenic values, assist in scientific research, protect the natural resources, prevent conflict between visitor use activities and facilitate the equitable use of the park’s facilities (U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America.)

All accidents have to be reported to the park rangers especially when there is a personal injury or in the event of property being damaged. Being in the park while under the influence of alcohol or any of the controlled substance is illegal. A number of areas within the park are closed to alcohol consumption such as all public facilities and buildings, with the exclusion of the Jordan Pond House Restaurant, the area served by it and staff housing; Sand Beach; parking lots, the Lake wood Shoreline just to name but a few. The park prohibits all kinds of motorized vehicles on the parks carriage roads and trails. All terrain vehicles are not permitted in the park. Camping is only permitted in a few designated campsites that are situated at Duck Harbor, Blackwoods and Sea Wall in the Isle au Haut (U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America.).

Feeding of the wild animals in the park is prohibited, whether they are gulls or any other roadside animals. In addition, visitors to the park should ensure that the food they might have carried is beyond the reach of any animal that forages; it is advisable that the food be either stored inside a vehicle or a hard sided locker. Wood and contained charcoal fires are only permitted in the park’s designated campsites and picnic areas; private grills or in receptacles provided by the park. In addition, campers can collect any dead wood found on the ground and use it as firewood as long as the wood is not taken from within the campsites with the exception of wood piles provided by the park. Chainsaws are prohibited in the gathering of wood (U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America).

Possession of firearms inside the park is only allowed provided the visitor complies with federal, state and local laws. Fishing is allowed in accordance the laws of the state of Maine. Pack animals for example horses are allowed in certain roads and trails. The park is open to the public 24 hours a day. The Base Harbor Head Lighthouse is not open to visitors and vehicles at night, whereas Carroll Homestead, the picnic area on Thompson Island and Lake Wood are not open to vehicles at night. Hunting and trapping of animals is not allowed in the park. Some islands in the park may be closed at certain times during the year with an aim of protecting nesting bird species. RV’s are allowed inside the park however some areas may be accessible when using this type of transport because of the limited space for the RV’s to turn around or the low bridge heights. (U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America).

Individuals who intend to carry out scientific research in the park, commercial photographers or film makers and commercial tours require permits to carry out their activities. The park prohibits the possession, removal, and injury, disturbance of the property of the park or its natural resources which include animals, plants, archeological and cultural objects and minerals. The park laws, just like the federal ones, expect visitors to the park to have their seatbelts worn when they are driving around the park.  Visitors who come to the park with pets must ensure their pets are leashed or physically restrained throughout the visit. (U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America).

The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36 (36 CFR) covers parks, forests and public property is a set of guidelines given by the Department of the Interior and deals with special regulations concerning areas of the National Park. In the case of Acadia National Park, it states;

(a) The designated Snowmobile Routes shall be; (1) Park Loop Road (except section from Stanley Brook Intersection north to the gate at Penobscot Mountain Parking Area) and connecting roads as follows; Paradise Hill Road (Visitor Centre to Junction Park Loop Road); Stanley Brook Road; Ledgelawn Extension Road; Sieur de Monts (gate to loop road); West Street; Cadillac Mountain Summit Road; entrance roads to Wildwood

(b) Hio truck Road from Seawall Campground north to State Route 102.

(c) The paved camper access roads within Seawall Campground.

(d) Marshall Brook Truck Road from Seal Cove Road to Marshall Brook.

(e) Seal Cove Road from Park Boundary in Southwest Harbor to State Route 102 in Seal Cove.

(f) Western Mountain Road from Park Boundary West of Worcester Landfill  to Seal Cove Pond.

(g) The two crossroads connecting Western Mountain Road and Seal Cove Road.

(h) Long Pond Truck Road including Spur Road to Pine Hill.

(i) Lurvey Spring Road from junction with Long Pond Road in Southwest Harbor to intersection with Echo Lake Beach Road.

(j) The Echo Lake Entrance Road, from State Route 102 to Echo Lake Beach Parking Area (36 CFR 7.56 –Acadia National Park).

Air Pollution Haze problem

Scientists have observed several signs that indicate that the climate of the earth is changing and according to global climate trends, these changes will become more significant in the next few decades. America’s national parks will neither be spared nor will thus be impacted many of which threaten the ecosystem diversity of the parks. This part will highlight air pollution and some of the potential impacts on ACP.

A report on the air above America’s most famous national parks showed that the parks are often more polluted than that of many urban areas. The report by conservation groups blamed fossil fuel burning power plants, motor vehicles and industrial facilities for generating the smog and haze into the parks’ atmosphere. The report showed that the pollution problem was threatening the health and beauty of the parks.  Within the next century, temperature at Maine is expected to increase 4°C and air pollution is the biggest concern in ANP. The reason why air pollution is such a big concern stems from the fact that the park is located on a downwind from industrial centers on Maine’s southeastern coast.  Air pollution in the park is expected to increase because warmer temperatures in the summer are more conducive to the formation of pollutants like smog (U.S. National Park Service).

At Acadia national park, the report found that scenic views are impaired and acidic rain threatens lakes, streams and rivers. For power plant pollution, they vary by region but the industrial sector ranks among the worst polluters and it was noted that the problem especially affects the eastern half of the country where ANP is located. For example the report cited sulfate particles formed from sulfur dioxide emissions from fossil combustion which account 60-80 percent of the visibility impairment.  This pollution damages visibility and natural resources as well as harming human health. Figure 1below shows how air pollution impacts on visibility in ANP (U.S. National Park Service).

Most visitors to the park are not treated to what they expect; clean air and good visibility. The reason is due to the parks location; on a downwind from a large urban and industrial area in the park’s high peaks and steep slopes. Air pollution is known to cause harm to natural and scenic resources in the park and impair visibility. 

Air pollution and its effects in the ANP

Air pollution in the park causes such problems like;

Because of its location which makes it prone to pollution, ANP is considered a Class 1 area under the Clean Air Act. This implies that the park deserves the highest air quality protection level. As a result, the park management is involved in the National Park Service's comprehensive air resources management program which was designed to assess air pollution, its impacts on the park and protect air related resources. The management of air resources in the ANP includes services such as research, monitoring and regulatory programs with the federal agencies as well as the state.  Figure 2 below shows the pollutants that have led to reduced visibility which are mainly from industries in the Maine area (U.S. National Park Service).

Handling of air pollution

The ANP has initiated many programs aimed at either reducing or controlling the air pollution in the park. Some of these programs include;

Monitoring Air Pollution

Since the year 1979, the park’s air quality monitoring program has been involved in documenting prevailing park conditions and determining any long-term trends of air pollution. There are also ongoing efforts to ensure that the biological effects are better understood by a way of supporting attracting and supporting air quality effects research (U.S. National Park Service).   

In assessment of impacts of air pollution, scientific research conducted over the past decades has shown that there are harmful effects of air pollution upon the natural and scenic resources that is Acadia National Park. Although spectacular vistas are still common in the park, pollution from the upwind sources have continued to pollute the park and degrading its visibility as a result. Monitoring the data shows that the park’s visibility has improved slightly since 1988 through to 1998 but are way below the recommended “natural backgrounds.”

The highest ozone concentration in the park was reported in 1988. Due to air pollution, the effect of atmospheric deposition is also another major concern in the park resulting into acidic precipitation of rain, smog and snow which cause nutrient growth in the lakes and affect such sensitive vegetations. Assessments and monitoring of the situation shows that the atmospheric deposition and other environmental indicators like forests, fish, soil, surface waters and park species indicating a particular threat from the anthropogenic contamination.   

Ways in which people can help avert or reduce the pollution

The ANP has endeared many people who have gone to love the park, this is shown from the number of yearly visits; more than 2 million tourists.  

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