So I’m back with an update on the story I wrote about earlier this week about the runners who were issued a citation after organizing on Facebook a group run up Cadillac Mountain during the meteor showers last week.
Acadia National Park Chief Ranger Stuart West issued a statement that he’ll ask the assistant U.S. attorney to “dismiss the charges based on the greater good.”
“Although, by the letter of the regulation, the ranger was not wrong in issuing a citation, I feel there is another way of handling the situation, so I will be making a recommendation to the Assistant U.S. Attorney to dismiss the charge based upon the greater good. That greater good is working with Andrew [the runner who was cited] and the rest of the running community to get everyone on the same page about when a special use permit is required,” West wrote in an email.
Furthermore, since this issue came to light, the park staff is working to simplify the system to make it easier for people to know when they need a special use permit, West said.
Park officials and runners met on Monday evening at the fountain in downtown Bar Harbor to talk about the situation and reach a common ground.
I spoke with Gary Allen, the race director for the MDI Marathon and co-founder of Crow Athletics running club. He’s how I found out about this controversy, and he was at the meeting Monday night.
“It was a productive discussion,” he said. “We were far more relieved than we were going into [the meeting] because [West] said that he would recommend that the case would be dismissed.”
Both sides agree there is still work to be done to get everyone on the same page about when a run rises to the level that a special use permit is required.
“To me, the park’s position is still a gray area,” Allen told me. “I’m glad they’ve moved to dismiss this, but I’m still not sure that the activity of the group of seven runners rises to the level of being illegal.”
“I learned quite a bit from the meeting last night,” West said in a statement via email. “It sounds like management of the special use regulations has evolved through the years, and although I know that they have improved dramatically over the last five years, we still have some work to do.”
“Both sides really want to cooperate with each other,” Andrew Kephart, the runner who was issued the citation Thursday, said to me today.
There will be an open meeting for the public at the park headquarters at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, to discuss the issue.
“The park has long been a supporter of the running community. They are some of our most considerate and supportive user groups. To have an incident blow up into a much larger misunderstanding is a shame, but social media has a tendency to do that,” West said.