ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – After having cited increases in the number of visits to the park earlier this summer, Acadia officials have reduced their estimates for how many people visited the park in July and August.
In September, park officials indicated that park use rose 6.6 percent in July and 12 percent in August from the corresponding months in 2005. The earlier figures were calculated by using monthly averages from 2002 through 2004, according to a written statement released this week by park officials.
Normally, the park’s monthly visitation estimates would have included data collected by a traffic counter on the Park Loop Road near Sand Beach but a faulty cable made this data unavailable, according to Charlie Jacobi, a natural resource specialist with Acadia. Once the source of the problem was determined and the cable was replaced, park officials were able to retrieve the monthly data and to include it in their revised estimates, he said Wednesday.
The new, more reliable figures indicate that visits to Acadia in July were up only 1.7 percent from the previous year and that park use in August actually fell 2.4 percent.
Park usage for last month, meanwhile, rose 3 percent from September 2005, according to the release. That puts park use for the first nine months of 2006 down half a percentage point, or by about 9,300 visits, from the first nine months of 2005.
Acadia officials predicted that the 2006 total will be about even with visitation totals for the previous year, which was slightly more than 2 million visits.
Jacobi said he did not know what sort of external issues have affected visitation to the park, which was around 2.5 million a few years ago. High gas prices, the growing popularity among children of electronic entertainment, and busier schedules are among the theories of why visitation at outdoor parks has decreased nationwide in recent years, he said.