Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Len Bobinchock
|August 26, 2004||
$1.2 Million Grant for Acadia National Park is Latest
Bush Administration Investment in Maine National Parks
BAR HARBOR, Maine - Interior Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett announced Wednesday that Acadia National Park has received a $1.2 million grant to improve its public transportation system for Mount Desert Island, the latest major investment by the Bush administration to upgrade visitor experiences in national parks in Maine.
"Since fiscal year 2001, the Bush administration has invested more than $26 million in more than 60 projects to preserve and protect Maine's national treasures," said Scarlett, Interior's Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. "Once fiscal year 2005 funds are allocated, national parks in Maine could receive an additional $5 million."
As part of Interior's celebration of the 88th Founders Day on Aug. 25, which commemorated the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916, Scarlett also visited several construction projects at Acadia that are reducing the park's maintenance backlog. Of the administration's $26 million investment in national parks in Maine, about $22.6 million has funded 50 projects at Acadia National Park; $377,000 for six projects at Appalachian National Scenic Trail; and $823,533 for four projects at Saint Croix Island International Historic Site.
The new $1.2 million grant is from the Federal Lands Highway - Alternative Transportation Program to purchase additional buses for Acadia's public transportation system. The National Park Service funds will be matched by $900,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation to purchase up to 12 propane-powered, 28-passenger buses. Park Service funds will be conveyed to MDOT through an existing agreement between the park and the state. MDOT will procure the buses via competitive bid.
"The Acadia Transportation System has been a model partnership project," Scarlett said. "It is important to continue to support the system in order to sustain the tourist economy and address regional concerns over traffic congestion, lack of parking and periods of poor air quality."
The Island Explorer public transportation system--a partnership involving federal, state, and municipal governments and nonprofit and for-profit organizations--has been extremely successful since it began in 1999. Ridership on the voluntary system has increased from 1,872 riders per day in1999 to more than 4,000 riders per day during the summer of 2003. The fleet of 17 buses has been operating at or above capacity for the past several years.
Scarlett said funding for Acadia National Park is up nearly 38 percent since President Bush took office (fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2005), and funding for Saint Croix Island International Historical Site is up 28.8 percent. She cited several other projects at Acadia that are improving the park and visitor experiences, including the following:
Roosevelt-Campobello International Park has received more than $300,000 to add space to the present visitor center to accommodate new restrooms. The new facilities serve physically impaired visitors, provide restrooms to visitors who arrive after the visitor center closes, and make room for additional exhibit space and less crowding.
Improvements in national parks in Maine reflect the president's nationwide investment in the National Park System, Scarlett said. "In these past years, the administration's commitment to the nation's parks and to the visitors who enjoy them has been strong and unwavering. The Department of the Interior is on track to exceed the national goal set by President Bush to invest $4.9 billion over five years to address maintenance issues in parks nationwide."
In recent decades, the National Park Service has received a significantly larger increase in funding than other nondefense agencies, Scarlett noted. "Operating funding for parks has increased 352 percent since 1980, compared with an overall increase in domestic spending of 138 percent."
Scarlett also made available a comprehensive report on Department of the Interior investments at National Park Service facilities in Maine. A national report on improvements to the national parks is online at http://www.doi.gov/initiatives/parks.html.
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