ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — In the interest of learning from one another, Acadia officials and representatives of national parks in Italy have decided to establish an informal exchange relationship.
The Italian officials, about 10 in all, have been visiting with Acadia officials for the past few days, touring parts of the park and learning about how the park operates. On Thursday, Acadia superintendent Sheridan Steele signed a “sister park” agreement with Nino Martino, superintendent of Italy’s Dolomiti Belluseni National Park. The park is in the mountains of northern Italy, about midway between Venice and the Austrian border.
The agreement is not expected to result in a formal exchange of resources as much as it represents an opening of lines of communication between the two parks so they can share ideas and experiences.
Maurilio Cipparone, a university professor in Italy with extensive administrative experience in that country’s national park system, said Thursday that what has most impressed him during his visit to Acadia is learning how the park partners with private organizations to promote and pursue its mission. A former park superintendent himself, Cipparone said that in Italy there are no equivalents to Friends of Acadia, the Island Explorer bus system or the Schoodic Education and Research Center Institute.
“We’ve been impressed with the vitality [of the park’s outside relationships],” Cipparone said. “The advantages [of the sister park agreement] are mainly ours.”
Cipparone added that the Italian national park system is not as developed, in terms of organizational structure, as the National Park System in the United States. The Italians founded their park system in 1922, only six years after NPS was founded, but a lot of the Italian system’s growth has occurred only since 1991, he said.
Steele said he has been surprised to learn how much more cooperative interaction Acadia has with surrounding residents and communities, compared to the Italian parks, which he said face more financial and political hurdles than their American counterparts. Acadia’s advisory commission, made up of residents appointed by adjacent towns, and that park’s corps of volunteers also are key partnerships for Acadia, he said.
“We feel this has been a valuable exchange as well,” Steele said. “It makes me realize how lucky we are to have such support from the public.”
During its U.S. visit, the Italian contingent has visited national park sites in New York and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller national historic site in Woodstock, Vt. They departed Acadia on Thursday and are expected to return soon to Italy, but not before making one more stop in Maine on Thursday afternoon.
“We must visit one of the most important sites in Maine: L.L. Bean,” said Martino.