Winter Harbor campground plans outlined for large local gathering

WINTER HARBOR —It was standing room only as the National Park Service (NPS), a landscape architect and a transportation planner, among others, updated residents Aug. 28 on a new campground that is opening next summer.

Many residents at the meeting in Hammond Hall — who posed their questions to speakers on note cards — were curious about what services will be provided to campers in the campground.

Questions ranged from what campers might need to purchase off site to what activities will be allowed on the new trails and who will provide policing and emergency medical services in the park and campground.

The 96-site campground will be known as Schoodic Woods. It is owned by Lyme Timber Co. of Hanover, N.H., and a private family foundation.

The campground abutting Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula will be operated by Acadia National Park, which has two NPS campgrounds on Mount Desert Island.

“We have been working on it for over two years,” said Sam Coplon of Coplon Associates in Bar Harbor, which designed the campground and two new trails.

The opening date is June 30, 2015. In subsequent years the campground will open Memorial Day and close Columbus Day weekend.

Coplon said the campground will have room for 34 recreational vehicles, 50 tents and smaller campers, 12 wilderness camp sites accessed on foot and two group camping sites.

Also under construction are parking space for 100 vehicles, a log home welcome center, a maintenance building, amphitheater, picnic pavilions and limited staff housing.

There are two new trails formed along old skidder roads once used by lumber companies. One is an eight-mile, multi-purpose trail. The other is a five- mile hiking trail.

The trails can be accessed from the campground. There also will be two trail heads on East Schoodic Drive in Birch Harbor with parking at each for 10 to 12 vehicles.

One of the benefits of the new multi-purpose trail is that it will enable bicyclists to bike around the loop road and trail without entering two-way traffic in Birch Harbor.

“This campground will be very, very different,” Coplon said. “All the sites will be separated. There are vegetation buffers so that each site has a high degree of privacy.”

He said there will be bathrooms and cold water stations to wash dishes, but no showers or hot water.

Downeast Transportation General Manager Paul Murphy said the Island Explorer bus, which now makes hourly runs through the park along Birch Harbor and into Winter Harbor, will be augmented by another bus to allow for half-hour cycles.

“We haven’t designed the route, but it will be similar” to the current route, he said.

Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele said the campground will be included in the National Park reservation system.

“When the construction is done, we will take over the campground,” he said.

Steele said the campground should draw 250 to 300 people each day at the height of the season.

The NPS is prepared to limit RV traffic along the scenic loop road in the park.

“The character of the experience here is one of the best in the National Park Service,” said Steele. “We don’t want the area to be overwhelmed.”

He also said he expects a “synergy” between the campground and the Schoodic Institute, which has extensive educational programming in the summer months.

Steele said he expects a number of day trippers who will travel to the Peninsula on the ferry now operating between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor.

Among the services campers will need off site, he said, are hot showers, a laundromat, firewood, camping supplies, groceries and restaurants.

Asked if snowmobiles will be allowed on the multi-purpose trail, Steele said that discussion has not taken place.

He did say the parking lot will be open in the winter with a comfort station available for cross country skiers and winter hikers.

Steele said there will be no retail concessions in the campground or park.

However, the park does grant commercial use authorization contracts for services such as rock climbing, he said.

Law enforcement and emergency medical services will be provided in the park and campground by park rangers and other personnel, Steele said.

Steele noted that Schoodic Peninsula residents indicated some time ago they wanted economic development while maintaining the character of the communities.

“I think this is the best of all worlds for this area,” he said.

The meeting was organized by Pam Broderick of Schoodic Creates. Anyone who would like to obtain minutes of the meeting can email her at [email protected]

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

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