For centuries, the diverse ecosystems of Mount Desert Island have provided an ideal setting for learning about the natural world and studying the environment. The fact that this beautiful place remains accessible to all and continues to foster a culture where science is encouraged and thrives represents the work of many individuals and organizations.
On April 19 we helped launch Landscape of Change, a community-wide conversation about the direct connections between human and environmental history, and building resilience in the face of climate change.
Historic records are a vital resource in analyzing change over time. The Mount Desert Island Historical Society cares for an important collection of logbooks written by a group of Harvard students between 1880 and 1890. Calling themselves the Champlain Society, the students catalogued Mount Desert Island region natural history and wrote reports on their findings, inspiring subsequent conservation efforts that led to the formation of Acadia National Park. The public launch of Landscape of Change coincides with the special “Summers of Science and Wonder” edition of Mount Desert Island Historical Society’s acclaimed annual journal Chebacco, which presents the first three years of the Champlain Society logbooks edited by Catherine Schmitt of Schoodic Institute.
The Champlain Society logbooks underpin the Landscape of Change project, a partnership conceived of and led by MDI Historical Society that includes Schoodic Institute, Acadia National Park, College of the Atlantic, MDI Biological Laboratory, and A Climate to Thrive. Focusing on birds, pollinators, seawater temperatures and levels, and weather, this partnership will analyze and publish historical records, record current data for comparison, and use the historic and current data to anticipate coming changes.
In 2021, during new “Seasons of Science and Wonder,” we will be co-hosting a series of public citizen science events with the National Park Service and Friends of Acadia to revisit historic data and encourage everyone to participate in documenting our region’s changing landscape. The first of these events will be a citizen science day during National Parks Week, on April 25 in the parking area of Sieur de Monts Nature Center.