Merriland River (Little River)

The Little River Watershed is dominated by two tributaries: Branch Brook and the Merriland River, which both begin in the sandy glacial outwash plains near the Sanford airport and converge in the marshes of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge.


Drainage: 31.5 square miles
Drinking water source for: Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells
Receives wastewater from: None
Significant water features: Laudholm Beach, Crescent Surf Beach

Watershed Description

The Little River Watershed is one of the least developed and most protected in southern Maine. Much of the land has been designated as conservation land, including the the large salt marsh estuary at the river's mouth, which falls within the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The extensive blocks of undeveloped forestland and estuary provide habitat for rare and important species including the endangered Black Racer and the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Additionally, the sand dunes adjacent to the two swimming beaches located within the watershed provide essential nesting habitat for the endangered Piping Plover.

Local Information

Towns in Watershed

Kennebunk, Sanford, Wells

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve is dedicated to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine through integrated research, education, stewardship, environmental learning, and community partnerships.

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