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Lana&ape and Urban Planning, 19 ( 1990) 2 13-250 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam -Printed

213 in The Netherlands

Toward a Sustainable Landscape with High Visual Preference and High Ecological Integrity: the Loop Road in Acadia National Park, U.S.A. CARL STEINITZ
Department of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 (U.S.A.) (Accepted for publication 12 January 1990)

ABSTRACT Steinitz, C., 1990. Toward a sustainable landscape with high visual preference and high ecological integrity: the Loop Road in Acadia National Park, U.S.A. Landscape Urban Plann., 19: 213-250. This paper reports on research which develops an experimental mode of landscapeplanning, using simulation modelling methods ap plied to Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island, Maine, U.S.A. The research was directed at establishing levels of sensitivity to landscapemanagement and design changes for both the ecological landscape and the visual landscape.Both are of great importance to the park; evidencepoints to the perceivedbeauty of the landscape as the overwhelming reasonfor the user-popularity of Acadia. A detailed geographic information system (GIS) wasprepared for the island. User preferencesfor the visual landscapesof Mt. Desert Island were assessed via interviews with several hundred residents and visitors. Five conceptually diflerent existing visual models werecomparedfor their ability to havegeneratedthe surveyresponses. Based on results,a new and more predictive model was then developed. Analyses werealso conductedto identifi the landscape elements of the island which are most important for maintaining a diversity of wildlife habitats and thus their ecological integrity. The visual and ecological models were applied to the GIS, mapped and compared. Twelve landscapeplanning policies and actions were simulated along the Loop Road, the most frequently used route in the park. Using spreadsheetmethods, these were evaluated by the modelsfor their visual and ecological impacts. Taken in combination, alternative landscapemanagement plans can thus be designed, compared and directed toward a more sustainable landscape.

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C. STEINITZ

THE RESEARCH

CONTEXT

Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island

The law by which the Congressof the United States of America created Acadia National Park in 1919 states that it was established “... to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of the future generations”. Congress,in essence,defined the objective of the management of Acadia National Park as a sustainable landscape. Situated off the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park conservesislands and ocean landscapesin a combination that is unequaledalong the Atlantic coast of the U.S.A. (Fig. 1). The park currently includes 35 000 acres on Mt. Desert Island with additional acreage on Schoodic Peninsula across Frenchman’s Bay, and on surrounding islands. Somes Sound, the only fjord in continental U.S.A., divides the park on Mt. Desert Island into two areas, the eastern and the western. The most highly visited areas within the park are found on the eastern side where the Park Loop Road provides accessto spectacular water views, numerous-scenicoverlooks, an extensive network of hiking and carriage trails, and the island’s most prominent featuresincluding the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Acadia National Park is one of the most intensively used tourism-recreation facilities in the New England region, easily accessibleto the growing northeastern cities. In 1986 four million visitors, four times the total population of the state of Maine, came to Acadia. The impact of the growing number of park visitors on the island is evident. It has causedcongestion on island roads, encouraged extensive commercial development in the...
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