ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — The ongoing shutdown of the federal government, which is now entering its third week, has not had much impact here compared to other National Park Service properties, but there is concern that its effects could become more pronounced if it lingers on much longer.
Since the federal government shut down on Dec. 22, spurred by another showdown between President Donald Trump and Congress over funding for a wall Trump wants built along the border with Mexico, problems have arisen at several national park sites.
Significantly reduced staff and locked bathroom have resulted in garbage piling up and people relieving themselves at some national parks in the West, and three people have died in apparent accidents at three different parks. Deaths occur at national parks when the federal government isn’t closed, but the shortage of working park staff could pose an increased safety risk if rescues are delayed due to a lack of available responders, national park advocates have said.
Trash piles and injuries so far have not been an issue at Acadia, according to David MacDonald, head of Friends of Acadia. He said the park gets far fewer visitors in winter than it does in the spring and fall, and many of its public buildings and roads already had been closed for the winter prior to the shutdown.
Winter visitors tend to be area residents familiar with the park who are well prepared for the conditions and the relative lack of service and other visitors, he said.
“Knock on wood, the park’s winter visitors tend to be quite respectful and knowledgeable about the conditions under which the park is operating,” he said Thursday, adding that the Friends of Acadia has been keeping in touch with park rangers during the shutdown.
Rangers on duty were unavailable for comment on how the park is being affected by the shutdown. A dispatcher who answered the phone last week said all media seeking information about the shutdown are being directed to doi.gov/shutdown.