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Acadia: A gift to the people, by the people

Acadia: A gift to the people, by the people

By Anne Kozak

From Mount Desert Islander, July 14, 2016

July 8, 2016, marks Acadia National Park’s 100th birthday.

But unlike parks in the West that were carved out of existing federal lands, Acadia was given to the nation tract by tract, acre by acre, by many different people over time. Initially, gifts of land came from wealthy summer residents who had a desire both to preserve Mount Desert Island’s natural beauty and to ensure public access. By 1916, the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, an early land trust, had acquired more than 6,000 acres, many of which were deeded to the government.

The park has grown nearly every year since. It now, including conservation easements, totals some 44,000 acres. And gifts continue to this day.

While George Bucknam Dorr is considered the “Father of Acadia,” there are others who figure just as prominently in championing the cause.

Dorr was the one who purchased lands and lobbied influential friends to help in establishing Acadia in 1916, yet Acadia’s roots go back to the 1880s – a time when a strong conservation ethic was developing. By 1880, the island was one of the most popular summer retreats in the United States. Those who came here to escape cities wanted to protect the island’s fresh air and natural beauty.

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