Park management research

John Daigle started his relationship with Acadia National Park as a park ranger while he was an undergraduate at the University of Maine. Now as a professor of forest recreation management, his work with Acadia continues in the form of park management research. Since the late 1990s, Daigle has researched topics including alternative transportation systems for the park and the environmental impacts of walking off trail on Cadillac Mountain. 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.



John Daigle:
I started researching alternative transportation at Acadia National Park in 1999. Basically, this followed a general management plan that the park had created.

Looking at solutions to the congestion and parking problems inside the park, they decided that a bus system, the Island Explorer Bus System, could be a way of alleviating some of the congestion and parking, not only in the park, but also within the surrounding communities, like Bar Harbor, where they also have parking problems.

It was chosen among all the national parks in the United States as a test site for intelligent transportation systems. Essentially, that’s new technology that gives information to riders in terms of when buses are arriving, their bus stop location, and everything is more real-time information.

Based on our study, it really did improve the visitor experience. It increased ridership on the bus and just made it a better system, a more successful system. With the work that we’ve done, it has really generated more research in other national parks in making systems better.

It has been used as a model in other parks, like Rocky Mountain National Park where I’ve done similar research. Also, the Grand Canyon National Park.

It is a model that seems to work in certain settings where you do have high visitor use. Acadia National Park has always had a special relationship with the University of Maine. They provide opportunities for students that have an interest in this career. They look at students at the University of Maine as future employees and leaders in this field.