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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Visits Acadia To Highlight Planned Park Investments

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Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park on June 18, 2021 during her first visit to Maine and her first visit to a national park as Secretary of the Interior.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland packed a lot into a two-day trip to Maine this week. It was her first visit to the state and her first to a national park as Secretary of the Interior. She met with tribal leaders, spent time with Maine's congressional delegation and Governor Janet Mills, and visited Acadia National Park. She also had an unusually early event on Friday morning.

Speaking at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, flanked by Governor Mills and Maine’s entire congressional delegation, Secretary Haaland said she visited Cadillac Mountain and was awed by the view.

“It’s hard to put into words the beauty that you see out on the horizon, with some boats on the water, and a plethora of birds and wildlife that you know have made their homes here for millennia," Haaland said.

Haaland said the Department of Interior is making investments to ensure that more visitors can enjoy such national park experiences.

“Earlier this month, the departments of the interior and agriculture announced proposed allocations of $2.8 billion dollars in Great American Outdoors Act funding to support local economies, outdoor recreation, and access to public lands," Haaland said.

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Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
Senator Susan Collins speaks at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park during Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's first visit to Maine and a national park as Secretary. Collins noted the strong bipartisan support for the Outdoors Act.

Haaland said those funds include $7.6 million to improve drinking water and wastewater systems in the Schoodic District of Acadia. She also said the proposed federal budget includes a $1.3 million increase for natural resources stewardship and conservation at Acadia. The federal funding she announced will be welcomed at Acadia, which is expecting as many as 3.5 million visitors this summer.

Senator Susan Collins noted the strong bipartisan support for the Outdoors Act.

“Every single member of the Maine delegation cosponsored that bill. We were the first state in the nation to have the entire delegation as cosponsors," Collins said.

Haaland served as a congressional representative to New Mexico before being tapped for interior secretary.

Representative Chellie Pingree praised her former colleague, and noted a significant first.

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Murray Carpenter
Maine Public

“Having the first native woman as an interior secretary is a landmark moment for our country," Pingree said.

“Oh my heart just busts right open. To have an indigenous person in that position, to me, it’s like they see, they see us," said Lynn Mitchell, a member of the Passamaquoddy tribe. She was among a group of Wabanaki musicians that welcomed the sunrise with Haaland Friday morning at 4 a.m. along with cellist Yo Yo Ma. Mitchell expressed the magic of the moment in Passamaquoddy.

“It was blessed to have everybody here today… everybody,… and for those ancestors that have gone on before us, they were here today too, to celebrate," Mitchell said.

Secretary Haaland also visited The Penobscot Nation at Indian Island, and toured the Penobscot River