Acadia. Baxter. Allagash. These are places of wildness and beauty where visitors seek renewal. They are the premier wildland recreation destinations in Maine, a state known for rugged landscapes. Their contributions to the life of our nation have long been recognized. One hundred years ago a national park was created from Acadia’s coast and mountains. Baxter’s Mt. Kathadin, terminus of the Appalachian National Trail, has been a state park for 85 years. The lands and waters of the Allagash, a national wild river, became a state park 50 years ago.
While each iconic park is unique, they share basic needs. Three Maine-based nonprofits collaborate with park managers to enhance resource management and visitor services.
Friends of Acadia, an independent membership organization, has a 30-year history of supporting Acadia National Park with an active cadre of volunteers, funded stewardship projects, and grants. Cumulative grants from the nonprofit now total in excess of $20 million. For more, go to: friendsofacadia.org.
Members and volunteers from Friends of Baxter State Park have supported the wilderness mission of the park since 2000. Primarily through grants received, the nonprofit has assisted park managers by offering youth programs, trail work, and research. For more, go to: friendsofbaxter.org.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation is the relative newcomer, created in 2012. It supports the Waterway by raising funds to supplement state and federal appropriations. A recent accomplishment of the nonprofit was acquisition of the 40-acre Lock Dam parcel, which completed the State’s land acquisition within the Allagash restricted zone. For more, go to: awwf.org.
Nonprofit friends support parks nationwide. In some parks the work of friends is essential to high levels of visitor services and resource protection. The conservancies for New York City’s Central, Prospect, and Bryant parks come to mind. For national parks, the Golden Gate Parks and Appalachian Trail conservancies are prime examples.
While “friends” of parks go by many names, and vary in size and impact, all were established to benefit a specific park area, a series of park areas, or park programs. Friends groups offer an outlet for citizens’ passion for parks. They provide volunteer services and supplemental funding, and speak in support of parks (sometimes when park managers may not).
I join many in being thankful for help from our friends.