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Government shutdown could have significant impact on Acadia National Park

Hikers work their way up the Beehive in Acadia National Park in early Oct. 2022.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
Hikers work their way up the Beehive in Acadia National Park in early Oct. 2022.

As federal workers face the uncertainty of a government shutdown, some fear the closure of Acadia National Park will make it even more difficult to hire seasonal park employees.

Acadia is already struggling to find enough seasonal staff. At the start of the summer, it had hired 115 seasonal workers, short of the usual target of 165. And some fear that recurring shutdowns will further dissuade seasonal workers from taking federal jobs.

Stephanie Clement is the vice president of conservation for Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit that works to support the park.

"It's already hard enough to commit yourself to work for a national park, especially in a remote location, and so having the potential threat of a shutdown that's going to impact the bottom line, I do worry that is going to create attrition in the federal workforce," Clement said.

Clement says an Acadia tourist spends as much as 120 dollars per day in the area. Multiply that figure by the number of visitors last October, and that could mean up to 1.7 million dollars lost each day.

Clement says that is a worst case scenario, but any park closure would hurt the area.

"A shutdown this time of year will have a definite impact on the economy surrounding Acadia, which is so much focused on tourism," she said.

Past shutdowns have had a varied impacts on national parks. In 2013, Acadia shut down completely. But during the 2018 winter shutdown, Acadia was only partially closed. It's not clear what the latest impasse will mean for the park during the popular fall season.

"So we're just waiting to see which way this closure goes, and then trying to plan accordingly," Clement said.

The National Park Service has so far declined to comment on the shutdown, or its possible impacts on the park.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.
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