ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — With Wednesday’s accord between the House and Senate to reopen federal government, officials at Maine’s only national park on Thursday opened up Acadia for visitors again.
The park, along with most federal government operations, was closed down Oct. 1, the day the shutdown went into effect.
On Thursday morning, Chief Ranger Stuart West released a statement indicating that park staff would start removing barricades and opening gates right away.
“By late this morning, all gates and most facilities will once again be open to visitors,” West said in the statement. “Again, we want to thank the public for their patience and understanding and look forward to serving each and every one of you for the remainder of the season.”
Attempts Thursday afternoon to contact Sheridan Steele, superintendent of the park, and Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent, were unsuccessful.
Vic Suzuki, a Los Angeles resident who is solo bicycling from Fort Kent to Boston, said Thursday he had been unable to get into Cobscook Bay State Park because of the federal shutdown, and he’s been in the Bar Harbor area for a couple of days.
“I’m sure glad it opened up,” he said. “I came at the right time.”
Suzuki spoke as he took a photo of an electronic sign at the park’s visitors center in Hulls Cove that reads: “Acadia is open. Welcome back visitors and employees.” Acadia has more than 200 employees, only a dozen or so of which were not furloughed during the shutdown.
Courtney Ames and Mike McCann, a young couple from San Francisco, also stopped by the same sign to take photos. They said they have been driving around New England on vacation for about a week and were heading back to Boston on Thursday afternoon.
They have been in Bar Harbor for a few days already and admitted they walked into the park despite the closure.
“We’re absolutely thrilled [the park is open again],” McCann said. “I’m a fan of compromise, and I’m glad [Congress] came to one.”
The shutdown-related closure marked the first time the park had been fully closed since 1995, when a prior budgetary disagreement in Congress led to another shutdown. Acadia is open year round but during the winter, when visitation drops off significantly, many of its buildings are closed and vehicles are not allowed on many of its roads.