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Sen. King Chairs Hearing On National Park Congestion

Bar Harbor Parking
Robert F. Bukaty
In this July 31, 2018 file photo, a crowd of early-risers gather near the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to be among the first in the continental United States to see the sunrise, near Bar Harbor, Maine. The town of Bar Harbor plans to begin charging to park next month. The move comes amid ever-increasing seasonal traffic to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, which set a visitation record in 2018.

Acadia National Park officials say an online parking reservation system, which is new this year for those seeking to park at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, is working 'as intended'.

Superintendent Kevin Schneider told a senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday, chaired by Senator Angus King, that the vast majority of feedback from visitors so far has been positive.

"You can look at Tripadvisor, you can look at the Recreation.gov app and see what people are saying. Visitors understand there are only 150 parking spaces on Cadillac Mountain," said Schneider.

But Schneider says in the two weeks prior to the reservation system's launch in May, visitors were reporting severe congestion and double parking.

The reserved parking system was given a soft launch last fall in an effort to address overcrowding at one of the park's most popular spots.

It will remain in effect until October 19.

Sen. King, who chairs the National Parks subcommittee, says he is concerned about over-visitation of certain parks such as Acadia, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.

Possible solutions highlighted by King at the hearing include mandatory reservations, the promotion of less-visited parks, the development of more public transit options, and a boost to staffing levels.