PORTLAND (AP) – Legislation pending before a U.S. Senate subcommittee would enable Acadia National Park to continue to benefit directly from revenue generated by higher entrance fees.

Acadia’s daily fees were raised from $5 to $10 under a demonstration program launched in 1997. The program also took fee revenue that previously went to the federal government and directed 20 percent to the National Park Service’s system-wide fund and 80 percent to the collecting parks, according to Acadia’s superintendent, Sheridan Steele.

Acadia is one of about 100 park sites chosen to participate in the program that would end in 2004 if the bill is not passed, said David Buccello, Acadia’s chief ranger.

Since its inception, the program has brought in $584 million, including $13 million at Acadia, of which the park retained $10.6 million, Buccello said.

The funds were used to improve Acadia’s trail system, carriage roads and bridges, among other things, Buccello says.

Ken Olson, president of Friends of Acadia, will speak in support of the bill.

when it goes before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Parks on Tuesday. He said the demonstration fee program made possible the Friends group’s recent fund-raising campaign, “Acadia Trails Forever Program.”

“The fact the money is spent at the discretion of the park superintendent gives the park the ability to put this money to greater needs,” Olson said. “The person on the ground who knows the park is deciding where the fee money goes.”

The Friends group raised $9.2 million to match $4 million committed by Acadia to improve trail systems and rehabilitate old trails, Olson says.

“(The fee program) gave us a public contribution that was reliable. We could use that to encourage park donors,” Olson said.

AP-ES-09-08-03 0217EDT



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