Acadia facing staff shortages

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The park is entering the busy summer season with a shortage of seasonal employees.

“It’s for myriad reasons, but a big piece of it is a lack of employee housing,” Superintendent Kevin Schneider told the Acadia Advisory Commission on Monday.

“We have about 75 beds for our seasonal workforce in Acadia. In a normal year, we intend to hire as many as 150 summer seasonals. So far this year, we’re at about 120.

“We are down about a dozen fee collectors. We were unable to hire as many interpretive park rangers, who help answer visitors’ questions and work in our visitor centers and do programs. We are short on our trail crew. We have no lifeguards this year at Sand Beach or Echo Lake. And we’re down a couple of seasonal law enforcement ranger positions,” Schneider said.

“It’s challenging for us when we’re short staffed and dealing with the volume of visitation that we have. It certainly points out the need for employee housing and how important that is for our workforce.”

Schneider noted that Maine Sen. Angus King has introduced a bill that would allow 55 acres of park land in the Town Hill area to be used for the development of workforce housing, with 15 acres set aside for Acadia employee housing.

While the number of seasonal employees is down, it appears unlikely that the number of visitors will also be down this summer. The park was packed over the Memorial Day weekend, especially on Sunday.

“I helped direct traffic at the Sand Beach entrance station that day, and we had queues [of vehicles] waiting as long as 45 minutes to get in,” Schneider said.

He said the high price of gas didn’t seem to affect visitation.

“There were cars parked literally everywhere at Jordan Pond that Sunday,” he said.

He said he is glad the Island Explorer bus system will be running its normal schedule this summer, starting June 23.

“It is so critical to get people on the bus to help us resolve our congestion issues.”

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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