A bill to fix a series of territorial and jurisdictional problems at and around Acadia National Park passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a unanimous voice vote Tuesday evening.

The bill and an identical measure in the Senate have the support of Maine’s entire four-member congressional delegation and resolves rules about how and where the park can expand and allows clammers and wormers to work tidal flats next to park land.

“Hardworking Maine families have made their living for generations by clamming and worming in the intertidal zone in and around Acadia,” Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, said in a statement. I’m very pleased a bipartisan group in the House has moved this bill forward today.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, also supported the bill.

“It was very concerning to hear cases of clammers, wormers, and other harvesters being denied access to the mudflats around Acadia National Park that they have worked for decades,” she said in a statement. “This bill will ensure that Acadia National Park remains an attraction not only for its natural beauty, but also for its unique way of life.”

The legislation – the Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act – will move next to the Senate, where a staffer told the Press Herald there was as yet no set timing for a vote.


The bill resolves a number of thorny issues at New England’s only national park, first among them making legal the park’s acquisition of the 1,441-acre Schoodic Woods parcel, a coastal woodland with a campground and bike trails anonymously donated in 2015. The park had controversially incorporated it without respecting a boundary line established by Congress in 1986 for future park expansions that had been the result of exhaustive negotiations between the park and local residents.

The bill also would direct the park to permit “traditional” harvesting by clammers, wormers and periwinkle gatherers within the park in accordance with state law and local ordinances, language that appears to exclude seaweed harvesting, aquaculture pens and other uses that have not taken place in the area to date. Under Maine law, a coastal property owner owns the intertidal zone, but marine harvesting can be done there.

It also includes provisions allowing the park to make minor property swaps and corrections to deal with routine surveying problems, a measure widely supported by both the park and its neighbors, but which had been missing from previous versions of the legislation. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke also is directed to reestablish the park’s citizen advisory commission, which his department had allowed to lapse.

The House bill omits an earlier provision that would have directed the park to give $350,000 to a consortium of Mount Desert Island town governments to subsidize trash disposal – a move that park proponents have said would cripple the park’s next budget.

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