U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a Department of Homeland Security agency, needs to install new communications towers in Maine to support its mission. At least 60 sites in the state have been under consideration. One was the summit of Mount Cadillac in Acadia National Park.
From the purely technical or economic standpoints, it makes good sense to erect communications towers atop Mount Cadillac. The 1,530 foot-high peak of the glacially-rounded granitic mass offers unparalleled line-of-sight in both the seaward and landward directions. A paved road leads to the top, and that’s a major plus. This is not to mention that there are already two communications towers on the Mount Cadillac summit – a 40-footer used by state and local agencies, and a 70-footer (including antenna extension) licensed for use by the National Park Service, the park’s Island Explorer shuttle bus system, and several Federal agencies, including the Coast Guard, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.
These facts aside, placing yet another communications tower atop Mount Cadillac would unquestionably degrade the viewscape. John Kelly, Acadia's park planner, is uncomfortable with the visual impact of the two towers that are already there, and has expressed deep concerns about the visual impact the CBP tower would have if placed on top of Acadia's most prominent peak. At 80 feet, the height of an eight-story building, the CBP tower would loom 40 feet higher than the trees in its vicinity.
Last March, the Park Service and local NGOs finally (and through unconventional channels) learned that CBP was including Mount Cadillac in its tower building plans. The reaction was swift and predictable. In no uncertain terms, the Park Service informed CBP that Mount Cadillac is not an appropriate site for one of their towers and should be dropped from consideration.
The Park Service recently received word that CBP has done just that. The matter now appears to be settled.
Postscript: U.S. Customs and Border Protection isn’t the first Federal agency in recent years to propose another tower for the Cadillac Mountain summit. In 2007 the U.S. Coast Guard wanted to erect an 80 - 100 foot tower atop Cadillac Mountain to support its new nationwide Rescue 21 emergency communications system. The park’s opposition to that idea led the Coast Guard to drop the proposal and construct facilities at other sites.