Thursday, April 22, 2010

Acadia

Acadia National Park will be getting $2.6 million in federal stimulus funds, to be used to improve roads and rebuild walls. It struck me at first as odd (especially today, on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day) that a place named after a Greek province meaning "idyllic place" would devote funds to repair the ravages of the automobile. But then I remembered that the Park gets nearly 3 million visitors a year, almost all of them in cars. That's the price of an idyll so close to urban centers. That's the price of getting people out of their normal lives and into beauty, even if they get out of those cars only at Thunder Hole, Sand Beach or Cadillac Mountain.

Much of Acadia still is unaffected by motors, thank goodness. Ironically, the park owes its existence to a motor, in a way. The invention of the portable, gas-powered saw mill was going to be the death of the forests of Mt. Desert, so some rich summer residents thought in the early years of the 20th century, and they put together the land trust that eventually became the Park.

How about some money to get people out of their motors and into the hills, on to the ledges, out on the waters? That would be a real stimulus. They don't even have to worry anymore about gun people openly carrying their weapons. Earlier this month the Governor signed a law permitting only retired police officers and those already owning concealed-weapon permits to carry guns in Acadia, the first state law in the US to contravene the recent odious national law permitting all kinds of carries in national parks. Even Maine and its strong tradition of hunting thought that a bit ridiculous. At least the law allows states to opt out, and of course opposition to the feds is a tradition well-worn in Maine, a state of "cussed orneriness." God bless the ornery, but God bless also those guilty-rich Bostonians and New Yorkers who saved Mt. Desert, if only to preserve the backyards of their cottages in Bar Harbor.

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