The birthplace of Acadia National Park is encased in more than a foot of ice, and park officials won’t know how damaged it is until the ice melts.
The Sieur de Monts Nature Center, its parking lots and bathrooms, plus the Spring House and Wild Gardens of Acadia ― a total area of two football fields ― have been iced in for most of the week. Park officials announced the closing of the parking lot on Friday although that area had been closed to motorized traffic since the park’s main Loop Road closed on Dec 1, park spokeswoman Christie Anastasia said.
Frozen ground, snow accumulations and Tuesday’s rainfall left heavy water in areas that would normally flood once every 25 years. That water, plus two temperature spikes and plunges within the past week, created the flooding, she said.
“This kind of flooding normally happens in spring when we don’t have these freezing temperatures,” Anastasia said Friday. “I’d attribute it to changing weather patterns. I think the words that would be hovering over most scientists’ heads right now would be ‘climate change.’ ”
Anastasia called the Sieur de Monts area within Acadia the park’s birthplace. According to Acadia’s history, the park’s first superintendent, George B. Dorr, built the Spring House over a spring in 1909 and carved “The Sweet Waters of Acadia” on a nearby rock.
Dorr was referring to the French nobleman, Pierre Du Gua de Mont, who was commissioned in 1603 by French King Henry IV as lieutenant governor of New France. This gave him authority over all of North America from present-day Philadelphia to Montreal, according to the park’s history.
The king directed Sieur de Monts “to establish the name, power, and authority of the King of France; to summon the natives to a knowledge of the Christian religion; to people, cultivate, and settle the said lands; to make explorations and especially to seek out mines of precious metals.” Sieur de Monts set forth with his navigator, Samuel Champlain, and his crew and sailed to North America.
“This was Chapter One for Acadia,” Anastasia said. “A lot of the thinking that led to the expansion of the rest of the park happened there.”
Anastasia warned anyone who might visit the area to wear ice skates, ice cleats or other appropriate footwear and to exercise caution.
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