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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

A partnership-based, whole-watershed approach to climate adaptation in Acadia National Park


Changes in climate and associated changes in seasonality, invasive plants and insects, and visitation are stressing ecosystems and infrastructure in Acadia National Park. Over the past five years, park staff and partners have begun taking an interdisciplinary, partnership-based approach to assessing baseline conditions, identifying stresses, developing climate change scenarios, and restoring the ecological and cultural integrity and resilience of whole watersheds. The approach contrasts with past resource management in which managers frequently tackled problems with minimal coordination between disciplines (e.g., water, wildlife, cultural resources, and maintenance) and locations. The result has been a series of projects that have begun to measurably improve the health of one of the park’s most visited and iconic watersheds: the Cromwell Brook watershed, which includes Sieur de Monts (Acadia began in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument) and the Great Meadow, and whose namesake waterway flows through the gateway town of Bar Harbor. Projects (inside and out of the park) have included rehabilitating a historic spring pool, replacing undersized culverts with open-bottom bridges, removing a poorly sited septic system, removing invasive plants, restoring native wetland, establishing monitoring to assess changes in watershed health, and working with the town and other stakeholders to plan future projects that would further improve the health of Great Meadow and downstream areas in Bar Harbor. The combination of planning; monitoring; restoring healthy, functioning ecological communities; and minimizing stresses from human infrastructure and visitation offer the best chance of main- taining Acadia National Park for the enjoyment of future generations.

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