BAR HARBOR, Maine — If you had to guess how many people visited Acadia National Park this year, what would you guess?
Hundreds of thousands? A million?
This year over 3.5 million guests explored Maine's premier National Park. A number that is great for local business and the park itself, but takes a toll on the park property.
Carriage road spans over 45 miles across the Bar Harbor based park. Popular for hiking, biking, or walking. But in the fall when leaves get caught in ditches off the side of the room, it causes problems.
“There can be deep ruts and gullies going down the road and a lot of significant damage going down the carriage roads," Christie Anastasia, the park's Public Affairs Specialist said.
When the cold rain, snow, and ice, fall in the winter it builds up on the leaves that are stuck on the roads and ditches causing those ruts and damage.
Twenty-nine years ago, the park initiated a plan to prevent that damage. On the first Saturday of every November, Friends of Acadia hosts its annual Take Pride in Acadia Event.
Today, over 500 volunteers spent their morning raking leaves off of carriage road.
"When I’m raking leaves alone in my yard its no fun, but when I’m doing it with 30 college students its amazing," said David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia.
College students from the University of Maine, Husson University, and other local schools were among the hundreds grabbing rakes today. Local girl scout troops and individuals wanting to give back also were in attendance.
“We’ve got first timers here, we’ve got veterans. It takes a community to protect a national park," MacDonald said.
Today's goal, saving park staff time and money.
“When the carriage roads wash out, it costs tens of thousands of dollars to fix them," MacDonald added.
Although Acadia's visitor center is closed, there is still time to enjoy the views and trails before the winter snow. The gate that will close Park Loop Road for all car traffic will be shut on December 1.
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