Illegal camping in Maine’s Acadia National Park is on the rise


Crime

The number of visitors – and illegal campers – has increased during the pandemic.

The pink granite ledges of Maine’s Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. Jerry and Marcy Monkman/The Boston Globe

The number of illegal campers at Acadia National Park in Maine is increasing, according to a park spokesperson.

Acadia spokesman Sean Bonnage told the Bangor Daily News that illegal camping ranges from people setting up illegal campsites in the woods, to sleeping in their vehicles in parking lots, to “long-term residential camping facilities complete with tents and illegal fire pits”. Bonnage said it’s not new, but park rangers have seen an increase in cases since the pandemic.

In 2019, rangers counted 146 incidents of illegal camping in the park. In 2020, when the pandemic limited the number of visitors, the number of cases of illegal camping increased to 198. The following year, rangers recorded 182 cases of illegal camping, an increase of 25% compared to 2019 Bonnage said the park is on track to have between 150 and 180 cases again this year.

For those who want to spend a night in Acadie without fear of intrusion, the park offers reservations at several campgrounds. Prices range from $22 to $60 per night, depending on the shelter provided and the volume of visitors. None of the park’s campgrounds opened in 2020 due to the pandemic, which likely contributed to the number of illegal campers, Bonnage said.

Visitor numbers have increased in Acadia over the past two years, with 4 million visitors in 2021. Bonnage said the increased number of visitors to the park has surely affected the increase in incidents of illegal camping.

“Visits have increased steadily during the summer months in Acadia over the past decade, and we believe this is the main reason for the increase in illegal camping contacts rather than the pandemic,” he said. he declared to New.

Bonnage also attributed the increase in incidents to the lack of affordable housing on Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine. Much of Acadia National Park is located on the island, along with several well-known settlements and summer resorts. Housing for seasonal workers and guests has become a significant issue for the park.

“The park also sees at least a few contacts each year who are repeatedly contacted, and individuals are often homeless,” Bonnage said.



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