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Maine Groups Honored for Clean Air Project at Acadia National Park

Release Date: 04/06/04
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1017

For Immediate Release: April 6, 2004; Release #04-04-02

BOSTON - A partnership of Maine organizations, ranging from Acadia National Park, Maine Department of Transportation, Mount Desert Island League of Towns, Downeast Transportation Inc., Friends of Acadia, Tom Crikelair Associates and L.L. Bean were recognized by EPA for innovative air quality improvement efforts.

The groups were honored by EPA for working together to establish the Island Explorer Propane Shuttle Bus, a fare-free seasonal public transportation system that provides service throughout Acadia National Park and the towns and villages on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The Maine groups were singled out to receive one of 13 national awards given to local and state governments, industries and citizens groups at EPA's fourth annual Clean Air Excellence Awards ceremony, held recently in Washington, D.C.

"As a New Englander, I am familiar with the problem-solving determination exemplified by these groups to provide a reliable public transportation option to the Mount Desert Island community and its visitors," said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of EPA New England. "By encouraging public transportation – and providing a good option for people – the Explorer Propane Shuttle will reduce congestion on roads and achieve much lower exhaust emissions of smog-forming compounds and fine particles. This means people will have cleaner air to breath."

The Island Explorer features seven bus routes linking hotels, inns, and campgrounds with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring village centers. Clean propane-powered vehicles offer Mount Desert Island visitors and residents free transportation to hiking trails, carriage roads, island beaches, and in-town shops. This innovative service even provides visitors to the area the opportunity for a completely automobile-free alternative when exploring the popular tourist destination.

"Even as we look for regional and national solutions to air quality problems, I am delighted to see progress at the local level, remarked Dawn Gallagher, Commissioner of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection. " The Island Explorer is helping to reduce the pollution caused by literally millions of cars driving millions of miles on Maine roads each year. The partners that made this possible deserve both recognition and thanks."

The Clean Air Excellence Awards, sponsored by EPA, recognize and honor outstanding projects, programs and individuals achieving cleaner air. The program was established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, a senior-level policy committee that advises EPA on issues related to implementing the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. For information on the awards program visit:

"Friends of Acadia was honored to have been nominated by Maine Clean Communities for this award, and even more thrilled to receive it," said Ken Olson, President of Friends of Acadia. "The Island Explorer bus system has contributed significantly to traffic reduction, air quality improvements and the overall visitor experience in Acadia National Park and surrounding communities. Transportation systems in national parks provide important ways for visitors to enjoy our nation's scenic and cultural resources without the use of private automobiles. We're glad the EPA has recognized the importance of such systems, and we look forward to working with all the Island Explorer partners to expand service to Acadia and the Park's gateway communities."

One of the United States' most visited and well-known National Parks, Acadia comprises over 47,000 acres on the Eastern Maine coastline. With more than three million visitors each year, which largely occurs during summer months when air pollution is often at its worst through the combination of increased vehicle emissions and hot, sunny days, the Island Explorer is a valuable contribution towards improving air quality. Home to numerous species of birds, fish and mammals, in habitats ranging from woodland lakes and ponds to mountains and rugged, glacially-modified coastlines, this national park was first created by Act of Congress in 1919. The name was changed to Acadia National Park in 1929.

"Acadia National Park suffers from periods of poor air quality primarily the result of the long range transport of air pollutants," said Len Bobinchock, Deputy Superintendent of Acadia National Park. "The National Park Service has the responsibility to protect our nation's natural and cultural resources, inform the public about environmental issues, and set a strong, positive example. I am pleased that EPA has recognized the Island Explorer for its contribution in removing traffic from our roads and reducing the release of locally generated air emissions associated with tourist traffic."

Related Information:
Air Enforcement
Clean Air Act