September 28, 2013

Government shutdown would shut Acadia during peak peeping season

The budget standoff could affect thousands of federal workers in Maine and put a damper on the fall tourism season.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A line of hikers files up the Beehive Trail near Sand Beach at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor in July. The park may need to close at the height of the fall foliage season if congress can't reach a deal on federal spending.

Michael G. Seamans / Staff Photographer

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In this 2006 file photo, stars streak across the sky in a 75-minute time-exposure at Acadia National Park. The star-filled night skies are being celebrated during the fifth annual Acadia Night Sky Festival which began Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 and runs through Sunday.

AP Photo

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Fogg said 70 percent of the businesses that responded to a survey by the chamber said they were hurt by the delayed opening, reporting average losses of 10 to 20 percent during the month compared with previous years.

About 600,000 people visit Acadia in September and October, said Bobinchock, the deputy superintendent.

"We are getting many inquiries from people," Bobinchock said. "We are telling people not to panic at this time, to monitor the national news and to check in with the park periodically."

Thousands of visitors make their way to the Jordan Pond House, a restaurant and gift shop that's within the park and accessible only by park roads.

The Jordan Pond House is run by a private concessionaire, Acadia Corp., not the federal government. Michael Daley, the operations manager, had just received the email Friday afternoon informing him that the park will close in the event of a shutdown.

That would close down the Jordan Pond House, which has about 50 employees serving about 1,000 customers a day.

"It would certainly be a negative impact, especially during a year when we got a slow start" because of the Park Loop Road's late opening, Daley said.

More than 40 cruise ships carrying tens of thousands of tourists are scheduled to stop in Bar Harbor during October.

Of course, Acadia National Park is only one tourist destination on Mount Desert Island and along that stretch of coastal Maine. Fogg and Tibbetts said that even if Acadia is closed, people can enjoy the fall scenery from the waterfront, along the public roads or on accessible park trails and carriage roads.

"We always hope people will come to Bar Harbor, regardless," said Tibbetts, at the Bar Harbor Quality Inn, putting on her best cheerful hotelier voice.

But later she said: "It's an absolutely peak time for us, and that is a message we hope is getting through to Congress, too." 

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Crowds of people gather around Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor in July 2013. The park may need to close at the height of the fall foliage season if congress can't reach a deal on federal spending.

Michael G. Seamans / Staff Photographer

  


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