October 11, 2013

U.S.: Acadia can reopen during shutdown if state pays, but funds not there

A report says not having visitors for 10 days during prime foliage season has cost about $5.2 million.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Crowds of people gather around Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor in July. Despite the shutdown, the park could be opened if the state has the money to operate it.

File photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Late-afternoon sunlight shines Thursday on the granite barriers near Otter Cliffs on the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. During fall foliage season, this viewing area would normally be crowded with motor vehicles, but the federal government shutdown has forced the park to close, and the entrance to the Park Loop Road is gated.

File photo by Glenn Jordan/Staff Writer

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Thursday’s report by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees estimates that more than 3,300 jobs are at risk because of Acadia’s shutdown. The park is open year-round, but some of its roads and attractions close during the winter. For most businesses that support the park, the season ends by Nov. 1.

Chris Fogg, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said the businesses have been doing their best to weather the storm so far.

“It’s certainly not ideal, but it has forced a lot of downtown merchants to be creative with tours and excursions that don’t involve that park, particularly for cruise ship passengers, who are still coming in regularly,” he said.

There has been unease in the communities around Acadia about whether visitors will still come to the area. Fogg said hotels have had some cancellations over the past week but the island is still busy. He would not offer an opinion about whether the governor should use state funds to reopen the park.

Other areas, including state parks along the coast such as Camden Hills State Park and Popham Beach State Park, have had slight increases in visitors over the past week, but park officials could not say whether that could be tied to Acadia’s closure.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:erussell@pressherald.comTwitter: @PPHEricRussell
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Additional Photos

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A sign on a closed gate near the entrance to the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park tells visitors Thursday that the park is closed because of the government shutdown.

File photo by Glenn Jordan/Staff Writer:


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