Guest Blog: Acadia’s Island Forests

Tara Miller is a 2017 Schoodic Institute Field Technician working with Institute Director of Forest Ecology, Dr. Nicholas Fisichelli. Her projects include studying early life-stage responses of northern and southern tree species, and long-term monitoring of forest plots to measure climate change.

There are many ways to access islands in Acadia National Park: ferry, motorboat, kayak.  Some islands you can even walk across to at low tide.  I’ve used all of these methods over the past couple months in order to study the forests found on Acadia’s islands.

Leaving The Hop Island via motorboat with the National Park Service employees

The forests and vegetation on the islands always managed to surprise me.  Step off the rocky shore of Pond Island, and you dive immediately into dense, prickly spruce forest.  Half of Little Moose Island is covered with low shrubs that are characteristic of an Arctic landscape.  I almost expected a reindeer to walk over the hill.  The striped maples on The Hop grew bigger than I’ve ever seen that species grow.  And in only six acres, Bar Island (in Somes Sound) boasts an idyllic forest with enormous white pines.

A multi-trunked striped maple on the Hop


Earthwatch volunteers take a well-earned lunch break on Pond Island

The people, too, surprised me. There were intrepid Earthwatch volunteers who were willing to try out kayaking for the first time and wade through denser forests than I’m sure their program materials advertised.  Generous and friendly Park Service employees let us tag along on their boat and even helped me finish up a forest survey site.  And most of all, my co-workers never lost their smiles and positive spirits through long days of hauling gear and ducking through dense vegetation.  It has been a constant delight to explore the forests on Acadia’s islands.

Walking back across the tidal bar from Bar Island