History of UMaine’s research partnership with Acadia

Catherine Schmitt, communications director for Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine, discusses some of the earliest connections between UMaine researchers and Acadia National Park. In tribute to Acadia’s centennial in 2016, UMaine Today is reflecting on the university’s relationship with the park, particularly in terms of significant research pertaining to the state.



Catherine Schmitt:
Mount Desert Island was a popular destination for geologists, botanists, and other people who collected flora and fauna, people like Ezekiel Holmes, who led a state-sponsored natural history survey of the entire state of Maine.

They came to Mount Desert Island because of its diversity of plant and animal life. Ezekiel Holmes, actually, was a very strong advocate of creating the University of Maine.

Probably the largest connection between the university and Mount Desert Island was a summer field school that ran in 1924. That was operated by Clarence Cook Little, who was president at the time. He saw that it was a really good place for students to come and study.

Science, at the time, was really getting out of textbooks. People knew that it was really important for students to study plants, animals, and ecological processes in the natural environment.

It’s only an hour away, and it offers salt marsh and rocky intertidal zones, freshwater marshes, mountain summits, and really obvious geology. Any student of geology has to go to Mount Desert Island.

After the park was created, and what people like C.C. Little recognized, was that having protected areas, conservation areas, national parks, protecting places, it allows scientists to really study processes.

The park needs science. They only have so many staff. They only have a couple of scientists on staff, and so they rely on outside researchers to help them address management concerns, understand issues that the park is experiencing.

It’s very important. Again, the university being the University of Maine, it makes for an effective partnership.