WINTER HARBOR, Maine — Physical work to create hiking trails, multi-use trails for nonmotorized vehicles, and a campground on land next to the Schoodic portion of Acadia National Park could begin sometime this year if a land management firm gets the necessary approvals, according to an official involved in the project.
Sam Coplon, a Bar Harbor landscape architect and planner, on Friday estimated that roughly 70 people attended a public meeting about the plans Thursday night at Hammond Hall. Coplon is overseeing the planning effort for Schoodic Woods LLC, the Lyme Timber subsidiary that owns 3,200 acres of forested land adjacent to the park on the Schoodic Peninsula. The plans are for only the 1,400-acre portion of the property south of Route 186, between the state road and Acadia.
Coplon said Friday that he and his client have identified an area of roughly 120 acres near Frazer Point, on the east side of Moore Road where it passes Sargent Island, where a day-use parking lot and campground could be situated. He said the plan calls for allowing various types of camping at a total of roughly 100 sites. The campground would be roughly one-third the size of the Seawall and Blackwoods campground in Acadia on Mount Desert Island, according to Coplon. Local residents and officials have said the campground also would help replace the loss of camping options on the Schoodic Peninsula when the 148-acre Ocean Wood Campground in neighboring Gouldsboro closed in 2009.
Coplon said Schoodic Woods also plans to create hiking paths that would crisscross the 1,400-acre section and connect with Schoodic Head in Acadia. A small network of multi-use trails, most of which would follow existing skidder trails, would connect the Gouldsboro villages of Wonsqueak Harbor and Birch Harbor on the east side of the peninsula with the campground and Frazer Point picnic area on the west side of the peninsula. The trails would be slightly more narrow than the carriage paths in Acadia on MDI, Coplon said.
“They would function the same way” as the carriage paths, he said.
Coplon said work already has begun on flagging where the hiking trails would be. He said Schoodic Woods expects to apply for needed permits from Maine Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Winter Harbor Planning Board in the coming months.
“We are hoping to begin construction this year,” he said.
Coplon said none of the proposed uses have any implications for the 1,800 acres of adjacent land owned by Schoodic Woods on the north side of Route 186.
“That’s for another day,” Coplon said of developing a management plan for that part of the property.
Attempts Friday afternoon to contact Winter Harbor municipal officials about the plans were unsuccessful.
Public interest in how the land might be used has been high ever since the prior owners proposed in 2008 to build an “eco-resort” that would have included a golf course, a hotel, a lodge and as many as 1,000 house lots.
After running into organized opposition to the proposal, the ownership group instead sold the property to Hanover, N.H-based Lyme Timber in December 2011.
When it bought the land, Lyme Timber said it would keep the property classified as tree growth for tax purposes and that it would consult officials with Acadia and the land conservation group Maine Coast Heritage Trust to develop plans for public recreational use of the land.