ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Rangers continued to work over the weekend to enforce the closure of the park, writing seven citations to people who had driven motor vehicles into the park or were camping on park property.
Acadia was closed indefinitely last week as a result of the budget and health care debate in Washington, D.C., which has caused Congress to shut down the federal government, with a few exceptions.
Only a dozen or so staffers — out of more than 220 employees — remain on duty at Maine’s only national park, and they have been trying to enforce the closure order, within reason.
Acadia National Park is comprised of more than 47,000 acres of land, most of them on Mount Desert Island, and is surrounded by several villages and thousands of private properties where access to the park is as easy as taking a short walk into the woods. Fully enforcing the closure order, especially with a depleted staff, is an impossible task, Acadia officials have acknowledged. Rangers instead have focused on the most brazen offenses, such as vandalism of park closure signs and barricades, or people who willfully drive their vehicles around barricades or locked gates.
Stuart West, chief ranger for Acadia, said Monday that six people were cited Sunday. Two motorcyclists drove around barricades and locked gates onto the Cadillac Mountain summit road, he said, and four moped drivers did the same on the Park Loop Road.
“A reasonable person can expect to get a citation for being that egregious,” West said Monday morning. “The public is starting to show some frustration [with the national park being closed]. We’re asking the public to work with us.”
The motorcyclists cited for driving up Cadillac Mountain were John Bigelow, 54, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Jay Howard, 51, of Saint Catherines, Ontario, Canada, according to West. He added that the moped drivers were four people from South Portland — Eugene Gillies and Julie Gillies, both 57; Linda Momborquette, 49; and Timothy Napolitano, 53.
A seventh person, Sage Waring of Media, Penn., was cited Saturday for camping in the woods near Schooner Head, West said.
Also on Saturday, rangers towed a car parked past signage and barricades at the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center and assisted a family of five, including young children, who had hiked up Cadillac Mountain, according to West. The children had blisters on their feet and were unable to hike back down, and it was getting dark, he said. Rangers did not cite the family and instead gave them a ride back to their car, which was parked on Route 3 at the end of South Ridge Trail.
West said rangers need to be able to get authorized vehicles into the park, such as ambulances or ranger cruisers, and will tow any vehicle blocking a park road, even if it is outside a locked gate.
Rangers are concerned about their ability to respond if someone is injured in the park and needs immediate medical attention, West added. Four rangers and five volunteer members of Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue assisted a Portland woman who fell and injured her knee on Flying Mountain on Saturday, but the response could have been hampered or delayed if there had been another incident in the park at the same time, he said.
“If there’s any kind of injury, response times [likely] will be much longer” than usual, he said.