October 24, 2018
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Acadia mudflat bill earns House committee endorsement

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
Marine harvesters dig for clams or worms in the tidal flats between Trenton and Mount Desert Island. People who work in the intertidal zone next to Acadia National Park say park officials recently have been cracking down on their activities after decades of letting them work without hassle.

A bill designed to resolve border disputes between Acadia National Park and its neighbors cleared a hurdle on Wednesday in its long run toward becoming law.

The House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously endorsed HR 4266, which includes language aimed at ending confusion among clam and worm diggers who use mudflats near the park and rangers who have stopped them.

A donation of 1,400 acres at Schoodic Point to Acadia in late 2015 stirred objections from local leaders who said that its transfer without direct congressional approval violated the intent of a 1986 federal law that requires Congress to support large expansions of Acadia.

The local representatives expressed displeasure at their not being consulted on the land’s transfer until it had happened.

The National Park Service cited a conflicting 1929 law that allowed the park to accept the donation without congressional approval.

The pending bill reinforces the Schoodic Point donation, repeals the 1929 law and maps the park’s boundaries. It requires the Secretary of the Interior to consult with the state, Hancock County and nearby county governments prior to further expansions.

Written consent must also come from owners of the donated land prior to the donation. Written notice of pending donations must go to the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission and Maine’s members of Congress, the bill states.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, the bill faces at least one floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. No vote has been scheduled.

Identical companion legislation must also pass in the U.S. Senate.

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