ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Environmental advocacy groups, concerned about the effects climate change is having on Acadia and other national parks, are calling for the federal government to devote more time and money to address the issue.
Officials with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees said a report released Thursday indicates that Acadia is one of the 25 national parks most threatened by climate change. The report, titled “National Parks in Peril,” suggests that taking steps to address the issue of climate change could help create jobs and boost the national economy.
Among issues Acadia faces are rising sea levels, possible shifts in the distribution and numbers of tree and animal species, more severe storms, and increasing visits as people flee rising temperatures farther south, according to the officials. The high surf in August from Hurricane Bill, which injured more than a dozen people along the shore near Thunder Hole and swept one 7-year-old New York girl to her death, is a sign that climate change already is affecting Acadia and other National Park Service properties, they said.
“Global warming is impacting our parks now,” said Theo Spencer of NRDC. “This is not a future threat.”
The release of the report was not timed to coincide with the national broadcast this week of the latest Ken Burns series, “The National Parks,” but the timing does help draw attention to the climate change issue, according to Spencer. The release of the report has been delayed by other factors and just happened to come about while the miniseries is being aired, he said.
The National Park Service operates and maintains 391 properties nationwide, the officials said.
In the report, NRDC and RMCO suggest the park service is not examining the issue as aggressively as it should, and that more money is needed to better protect parks from climate change. More funding for climate change programs could be available if parks were allowed to keep a higher percentage of the entrance fees they collect from visitors, the groups indicate, and if Congress includes new funding sources or mechanisms in a proposed climate and energy bill.
The groups also call for expansion of existing parks and for creation of new national parks as a way to counter the effects of climate change.
“I hope people will become more concerned about what is happening in national parks and potentially elsewhere,” said Bill Wade of CNPSR.
Among the parks considered most threatened are those in low-lying coastal areas that could be covered by rising seas in the next century, the groups indicated. These include Everglades and Dry Tortugas national parks in Florida, Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia and Maryland, and Ellis Island National Monu-ment in New York and New Jersey, among others. Other national parks such as Glacier in Montana or Joshua Tree in California might not vanish but could lose their namesake features altogether, they said.
The officials said they are not recommending specific steps to take other than having the National Park Service do more to address the issue.