Abstract: Acadia National Park is among the most visited national parks in the United States, attracting millions of people per year. Thousands of those visitors come to the park for “astro-tourism,” as Acadia has become one of the premier stargazing locations on the east coast. There remains, however, the continued threat from light pollution from the surrounding communities that negatively affects Acadia's darkness, contributing to a lesser visitor experience and potentially harming native ecosystems. Although park management and community organizations have engaged in significant efforts to decrease Acadia's nighttime light levels and raise awareness among visitors and locals regarding the importance of darkness, the park still seek to continue to decrease light pollution. This report developed policy options that could help solve the long-term policy goal of decreasing nighttime lighting levels within and around Acadia while also using the International Dark-Sky Association's Dark-Sky Park designation requirements as a reasonable, short-term policy benchmark.
Working within existing organizations, the policy options crafted to address Acadiaâ€™s nighttime lighting levels were analyzed both qualitatively through a criteria evaluation and quantitatively through a Benefit Cost Analysis.
The options included 1) the formation of a Darkness Coalition within the League of Towns, 2) a reimagining of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Dark-Sky Project into the Dark-Sky Taskforce, 3) the creation of a Lighting Consultant position paid through the Friends of Acadia Wild Acadia initiative, and 4) the combination of Coalition and the Taskforce into the League of Towns – Dark-Sky Partnership (LOT-DSP). The report recommends the adoption of Option 4 – the creation of the LOT – DSP. While this option does not provide the greatest estimated monetary net value compared to the Status Quo in the quantitative evaluation, it still provides an estimated benefit of about $105 million over the course of five years and is the strongest option in the qualitative analysis. The LOT – DSP provides the best opportunity for Acadia to achieve legitimate and long-lasting nighttime light level reduction.