Visitors determined to enjoy closed Acadia a real problem for park rangers

Abigail Curtis/Bangor Daily News

Cars were parked alongside Eagle Lake Road near an access point for Acadia National Park's carriage trails on Saturday afternoon. Park rangers remaining on duty during the partial government shutdown said that they were overwhelmed by visitors ignoring the barricades to bike, hike and otherwise enjoy the park.

BAR HARBOR — Thanks to the partial government shutdown, Acadia National Park is closed.

But try telling that to the crowds of people — tourists and locals alike — who took advantage of Saturday’s beautiful weather to bike on the carriage trails and hike the park’s mountains anyway.

“It’s perfect weather, and there’s a zillion people out there, walking around the barricades,” said a Chicago woman who declined to share her name with the Bangor Daily News.

She and her husband had just biked around Eagle Lake on their first, long-planned visit to the park, and were looking for ideas for a short hike to do next.

“People aren’t going to let the government get in the way of what our tax dollars are paying for,” she said. “We drove all this way — we’re not going to sit on the outside and look.”

But that attitude is becoming a problem for the skeleton crew of law enforcement rangers who are struggling to keep people like the Chicago couple safe. Ranger Ed Pontbriand said that trying to close Acadia National Park, with its many entrances, is like “herding ants.”

“People are telling visitors — ‘Oh, the park is as porous as cheese,’” he said. “In order for us to enforce the closure, we’d have to have more people working than we do in a normal day. We’re so overwhelmed.”

On Saturday, he was one just four rangers on duty when a 69-year-old Portland woman fell and hurt herself while hiking on Flying Mountain and could not hike out. The woman’s companion, a registered nurse, was able to control the bleeding from a gashed knee while waiting for medical help, Pontbriand said. Another ranger checking the barricades on the west side of the park got to the scene less than half an hour after the 10:54 a.m. call and helped the woman, who was not being named in accordance with park policy.

Pontbriand said that all four rangers and five Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue volunteers helped with carrying out the woman on a wheeled litter. They brought her to the trailhead, where they placed her in the back of a ranger pickup truck and then drove her to the nearest road. There, they were met by the Southwest Harbor Ambulance, which brought her to the Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor for treatment. The Southwest Harbor Fire Department also assisted with the rescue, he said.

If there had been another emergency at the same time, rangers would have had to determine which had the higher priority and make the other injured person wait, he said, adding that the minimal staffing makes rescue efforts extra difficult.

“We’re so short of staff, we can’t handle major incidents in the park. That’s why we’re asking people to do the right thing and honor the closure,” he said. “That’s the best way to preserve and protect the park. If they love the park, help us out.”

The situation is hard on park staff, who usually spend their time encouraging visitors to enjoy Acadia.

“We’re used to accommodating people,” Pontbriand said. “We’re always trying to figure out a way to make their experience in the park better. With this closure, it’s 180 degrees in the different direction … the message is, ‘The park is closed.’”

Lots of people in the area hope that message will be reversed, and soon.

Nancy O’Brien, the owner of Fiore, a speciality olive oil and vinegar shop in downtown Bar Harbor, said that so far, the park’s shutdown has not negatively impacted her business. She said that visitors with suddenly limited recreation options may have decided to go shopping instead.

“This whole shutdown is ridiculous,” she said. “All week, it’s been very busy for us — but it stinks for the rest of the country.”

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Bob White's picture

A question for you

Why doesn't the President shut down his golf course? Oh that wont upset anyone nor will it get him any votes. Stop the games Mr. President

It's not in a park, it's at

It's not in a park, it's at Andrews AFB. The base is open and operating. and I don't see any actual news reports (as opposed to right-wing blog posts) that he's actually playing on it. Stop the manufactured outrage, Mr White.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


I was going back to point out the same, to Mr. Manufacturer of BS....

Andrew Jones's picture

Instead of 'closed' signs,

Instead of 'closed' signs, they should put up 'hike at your own risk' signs.

Flying Mountain?

You mean that little bump on the coast that's barely 200 feet high? I mean, in spite of it's low height it's one of the most spectacular sights on the island, but still, she hurt herself on THAT little thing and required search and rescue help? This right here supports the need to keep folks out of the park when the staff is limited. Imagine if she'd been on one of the more remote trails (Flying Mountain is right on Fernald Point Rd).

If this goes on, I'll expect more stories and worse injuries to be reported because people are too stupid to understand that the fully staffed parks keep them safe.

Andrew Jones's picture

Yeah; because the venue

Yeah; because the venue determines the severity of the injury, not the set of circumstances that led to the woman being injured, right?

The point being, you gotta be

The point being, you gotta be doing something really, really dumb to get hurt there. And that's why they close the parks when they have to furlough most of the staff. She was lucky there was a Ranger on that side of the island, or she would have been waiting much longer, bleeding from that gash in her leg.

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Parks belong to the people

Parks belong to the people not the government. The goverment is to serve the people not the people bow to the government. Time to take the government back.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

If that were the case in your deductive reasoning

The People could walk into military bases, nuclear plants or any Gov. building at will etc....

Andrew Jones's picture

Unauthorized public presence

Unauthorized public presence in any of those places could constitute a national security risk; no such risk exists in a national park.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Are you absolutely sure

Risk is always around the corner without supervision and just like the story, a person or persons are in imminent danger and they now risk others lives to save theirs....Now had the park rangers been there, they might of prevented the person from doing a stupid move or doing something not allowed.

Have you ever worked in Top Secret Strategic Installations, like Loring AFB's or White Sands in Alamogordo, NM, or Area 51 for instance and do you know exactly for sure, where all of those missile silos and listening stations are and how they are spread around the country in places for rapid response in the most LESS conspicuous locations? Let me educate you, they do exist, since I had a TS EBI working in conjunction with some of those areas. Never assume they are just parks....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Were created by the Government back as back as Teddy Roosevelt. The lands are protected by the same...the parks are not the peoples property.....

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Who do the belong to?

Remember Goverment of the people by the people for the people. Not people of the government by the government by the government. All government property belongs to the people not a want to be dictator.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Then go ahead

Walk on out there and lets see how far you get....Abe...

Then tell Boehner to bring the House to a vote and do the peoples business, when the Senate did theirs, that holds water just as much as the House....Since the House will not pay the bills, BY LAW, not by President, the Government is shut down, Because if the Operations and Management didn't do their job, they would be in violation of the LAW and Congress would be on them just like you are on the President , blaming him.......

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Did you feel the same

When Bush had the parks closed?

The parks are the peoples

The parks are the peoples property, and government is supposed to be a servant of the people. Jerry likes Cubas and Venezuelas way of governing. He prefers slavery over freedom.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

If it is smartpants

Try and dig for oil or gold or try and hunt on those parks chump. Try and do what you want and then prove to us smartpants who owns what and who protects what....

You are a delusional when it comes to reality.....again here is your cognitive bias disorder returning, as was is real and what your vacuum head thinks it is....

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Such nice people

They do not have an intelligent ability to reply so they just get nasty. Trpical liberal progressive.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


When you deal with Dennis the Menace there is no intelligence you are dealing with when you are trying to have a dialogue with him in any manner....AND had you been around and paid very CLOSE attention , Dennis is the slammer and insulter when he leaves his insults about Dems. me and others, similar to get off your mighty HIGH Horse there may get a nosebleed from being so high up staying dizzy....

Typical Con....response as usual.....

I agree Mike Savage from

I agree Mike Savage from Savage Nation, that progressive liberalism is a sure sign of mental mind disorder.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Mike the that is just hilarious about him diagnosing mental mind disorder and you swallow hook, line and sinker and what ever else you may swallow....Remember Dennis the Menace that leaves all kinds of many types of name calling and slanderous insults....simply amazing you really are...

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

This is all Obama's fault

Go back to Kenya you worthless piece of TRASH.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

If your brain exploded, it wouldn't even mess up your hair.

Aww, it's so cute when you try to talk about things you don't understand.


The woman "declined" to share

The woman "declined" to share her name? Just goes to show how many people are ignorant or just don't understand the difference between "closed" and open.


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