The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

York River Wild and Scenic Study Bill

Posted by | August 5, 2011

York River aerial photoOver the past ten years, the Wells Reserve has been especially active along the York River, studying fisheries habitat, identifying pollution sources, educating area residents about riverine and estuarine ecology, and helping protect land in the watershed

Since the spring of 2009, we have been part of the Friends of the York River, a group exploring whether the National Park Service (NPS) Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers Program is an appropriate fit for the river and the communities through which it flows. The effort received a boost recently when U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree agreed to submit a Wild and Scenic Study Bill in Congress.

If it passes both the House and the Senate, the study bill would commission an NPS-funded feasibility study to evaluate whether the York River qualifies as a Wild and Scenic Partnership River and whether the program is right for the communities of York, Eliot, and Kittery.

The study would be comprehensive, entailing assessments relating to history and archaeology, ecology and biodiversity, fisheries, water quality, land use, and other topics. It would also have great value to the town and to organizations such as historical societies.

About the River

The York River runs 11.25 miles through Eliot, York, and Kittery from its headwaters at York Pond to the mouth of the river at York Harbor. It is a natural resource long recognized for its significant natural resource and scenic values. The main stem and its tributaries have extensive and pristine salt marshes and tidal flats, and abundant and diverse fisheries. It has acres of adjacent woodlands that provide important buffers and travel corridors for terrestrial wildlife.

The river is appreciated by boaters, anglers, wildlife watchers, and sightseers. In recognition of the rich natural resources and their value to people and wildlife, there have been concerted and successful efforts over the past 10 years by area land trusts and the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative to protect land in the watershed.

The York River is more than a beautiful place with abundant natural resources. It is also a place where people make a living. Productive working farms are found in the watershed, and the river has vital working waterfront infrastructure, as well as facilities that support the recreational and tourism industries.

Our involvement with the Friends of the York River, and support for the study bill, is part of our ongoing effort to advance knowledge and stewardship of this incredible natural resource.

York River watershed map with tributary labels

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