As tourism at Acadia National Park has grown, housing has become more scarce, especially for seasonal employees. This year Acadia has publicly issued a request to rent seasonal housing within 30 miles of Bar Harbor. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

As housing prices on Mount Desert Island and nearby towns continue to climb, Acadia National Park is increasingly running into the same situation that many private employers are struggling with: finding housing for their employees.

This week, the park publicly issued a request to area landlords who may consider renting to park workers to contact the National Park Service. Acadia is looking to rent apartments or or homes that each have multiple bedrooms within 30 miles of Bar Harbor.

As the number of visitors to the park has grown significantly in the past decade, Acadia increasingly needs seasonal employees to handle the volume or people. The vast majority of visitors to Acadia come during warmer months, from May through October each year. In May of 2022, the park said it had been able to fill only 120 of 150 seasonal positions, in part due to the housing shortage.

Staffing shortages last year contributed to restricted overnight access  at the summit of Cadillac Mountain, according to the blog Acadia on My Mind.

The need for employee housing affects nearly every employer on Mount Desert Island, from hotel firms and medical research institution The Jackson Laboratory down to individual restaurants. The growth of  Bar Harbor’s tourism industry, and the soaring cost of housing that has been driven by commercial investors looking to rent out weekly vacation homes, has made all types of housing scarce.

To alleviate the shortage, Acadia is looking to partner with the town of Bar Harbor to build workforce housing on a town-owned lot on Crooked Road, near the village of Town Hill. The lot has been approved by Congress for development as workforce housing for the park and other local employers, but it is still in early planning stages and will be years before any housing is available on the site.

Acadia officials have not said how many employees they are hoping to find housing for this year, but have said they are willing to lease multiple properties. Each rental property should have between three and 10 bedrooms (one for each employee), be at least partially furnished, including major kitchen appliances, and have access to an on-site clothes washer and dryer.

The park is looking to secure leases from mid-April through mid-November.

Offers of potential rentals should be submitted to the National Park Service no later than Sunday, March 26.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....