Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
Northeast Region
 

News and announcements

2006 Archives


New culverts for Libby River
New culverts. Credit: USFWS

Libby River salt marsh restoration project completed in Scarborough Marsh

December 27, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

Scarborough Marsh restoration partners continue to work together, and have just completed the fourth major salt marsh restoration project in Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area in four years.  This most recent project promises to help restore the ecological health of the 114 acre section of the Libby River Marsh upstream from the Black Point Road (Route 207). According to CD Armstrong, the President of Friends of Scarborough Marsh, “The Libby River Marsh has been threatened for years by an undersized road culvert on the Black Point Road that limited upstream tidal flow by one-third and starved the marsh of needed tidal waters. More recently, problems on the Marsh were aggravated by excessive freshwater run-off from increased residential development.”  Consequently, Phragmites, a non-native invasive reed which thrives in low salinity waters and degraded salt marshes, has been spreading further and further onto the Libby River Marsh, ultimately covering 30 acres. Also known as common reed, Phragmites is a perennial, aggressive wetland grass that outcompetes native wetland plants and displaces native wetland animals. It is easily recognized by its height and its distinctive fronds of fluffy seedheads.

To restore tidal flow and increase upstream salinity, restoration partners installed two new large culverts under the Black Point Road.  “Although the most obvious work of installing the new culverts was completed this November and December, the restoration project actually started years ago and will continue for at least five more years,” commented Sandra Lary, Senior Biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. In 2005, pre-restoration monitoring was completed. Since then, restoration partners have been planning, designing, modeling, planning, obtaining permits, fundraising, and conducting outreach. In addition, post-restoration monitoring will be carried out in the first, third and fifth years after construction. According to Wayne Munroe, District Conservationist for the USDA --Natural Resources Conservation Service, “This important restoration project provides marvelous benefits for the Libby River’s tidal wetlands and will provide for greater fish and wildlife value, as well as invasive species control.”

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided technical assistance on the project design, planning, permitting, and funding. Other key partners involved in planning and implementing the restoration project include USDA -- Natural Resources Conservation Service, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Dept. of Transportation (MDOT), NOAA, Ducks Unlimited, and Friends of Scarborough Marsh, a locally based coalition of organizations committed to protecting and restoring the Marsh. Restoration monitoring is being conducted by Normandeau Associates, Inc.

Back to top
Somesville fishway
Somesville fishway. Credit: USFWS

Restoring alewives, American eel, and sea lamprey in Somesville on Mount Desert Island, Maine

December 5, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

Two fishways in Somesville on Mount Desert Island, adjacent to Acadia National Park, have been rebuilt this year, with enthusiastic support from many local residents, community groups, and state and federal agencies. When all three phases of this restoration project are complete, diadromous (searun) fish passage will be restored throughout the Somes Pond-Long Pond watershed, providing access to more than one stream-mile and more than 1,000 acres of important lake habitat for alewives, sea lamprey and American eel.

According to Tom Squiers, Director of Maine Dept. of Marine Resource’s Stock Enhancement Program, “Historically, more than two hundred thousand adult sea-run alewives followed streams from Somes Sound through the mill pond to Somes Pond, Ripple Pond and on to Long Pond.” Alewives managed to negotiate a fishway leading past the 50 foot long dam separating Somes Sound from the mill pond, two more fishways located at small dams before Somes Pond, and one more fishway at the outlet to Long Pond. The dams, directly linked to Somesville’s industrial history and dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s, once supported a lumber mill, grist mill, woolen mill, and shingle mill. However, all of the fishways have deteriorated, so fish passage to the entire watershed has been seriously degraded, leading to precipitous drops in alewife, American eel and sea lamprey populations.  David Lamon, Executive Director of the nearby Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary who has coordinated this ambitious restoration project, volunteered to count alewives at the first and biggest dam at Somes Sound for the past two years. “We only counted 360 alewives two years ago and 4,000 alewives last year…just a tiny vestige of what our watershed should support.”

In order to support the local fishing economy and to restore the biological vitality of the Somes Pond and Long Pond watershed, committed individuals and organizations on Mount Desert Island have joined with state and federal agency biologists and engineers, along with several contractors, to restore diadromous fish in the watershed. The  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has provided significant technical support and helped raise $98,000 from its own Coastal Program’s funds, USFWS National Fish Passage Program, and the USFWS--National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Maine Habitat Restoration Partnership Grant for the project. Maine Dept. of Marine Resources biologists, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Region 5 Fish Passage Engineers, NOAA’s Habitat Restoration Partnership biologists, and Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment planners have also provided funding support and vital technical expertise.

The first phase of the fishway restoration project was completed this year, with repairs completed at two fishways. At the first dam located near the entrance to Somes Sound, concrete walls and wooden baffles were repaired on an existing denil fishway. At the third upstream fishway, special care was taken to maintain the historical integrity of the hand-built granite fish ladder while making modifications needed to pass fish. In restoring the fishway, all of the original granite stone was used, and the overall historic design was maintained.

Phase II restoration work is currently underway, which will focus on complex restoration work needed at the second upstream dam and relatively simple, but important fishway repairs at the Long Pond outlet dam.  Repairing all four of the existing fishways will provide effective passage for native sea lamprey and alewives. The third phase of this project, yet to be initiated, promises to incorporate additional fishway modifications that will enhance passage for American eels.  Throughout the project and after it is completed, biologists and local volunteers will continue to monitor fish runs to document restoration progress. In addition, wayside exhibits will be installed to build awareness, understanding and support for diadromous fish restoration.

“The decline of diadromous fish populations in Somesville is all-too-typical in Maine, where forgotten small dams and unmaintained fishways block passage,” commented Sandra Lary, Senior Biologist at USFWS Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. Restoring fish passage throughout the Gulf of Maine, in watersheds like the Somes Pond-Long Pond watershed holds promise to bring back robust fish populations, which are central to restoring a healthy web of life in Maine’s watersheds.

To learn more about the life cycle and natural history of alewives, eels and sea lamprey in Maine, check out the following information:

All About Maine Alewives
The American eel
Sea lamprey

Back to top
Highland Lake Dam restoration site
Highland Lake Dam restoration site.
Credit: USFWS

Highland Lake fish passage completed

September 20, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

On September 15, 75 supporters, dignitaries and conservation partners celebrated the restoration of fish passage at Highland Lake.  After several years of detailed planning and fundraising, the project is now complete. The project involved renovating the fishway and restoring the degraded stream channel at Highland Lake Dam in order to improve upstream and downstream passage for diadromous (sea-run) fish – especially alewives, which had historically enjoyed free access to Highland Lake.

In 1936, a dam owned by the City of Westbrook was built at the outlet of Highland Lake, cutting off native sea-run alewives from their historic spawning and nursery habitat. More than 50 years later, in 1988, Maine Dept. of Marine Resources constructed a concrete denil fishway at the dam to once again allow adult alewives to successfully pass upstream to spawn in Highland Lake and to allow adult and juvenile alewives to move downstream to the Gulf of Maine. During a massive southern Maine flood in October 1996, the old Highland Lake Dam breached, the fishway was destroyed, and the downstream channel was degraded and over-widened. A new dam and fishway were constructed in 2000, but they have not worked effectively at passing alewives. 

A planning team, initially including biologists and engineers from Maine Dept. of Marine Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service initiated design work, solicited additional partners and consultants to provide technical and financial support, obtain required permits, and conduct outreach to:

  • Adjust the fishway structure to reduce the velocity of the water in the fishway and improve passage of adult alewives into Highland Lake,
  • Restore the degraded stream channel to direct adult alewives to the fishway entrance,
  • Restore the degraded stream channel to concentrate water flows and improve upstream and downstream migratory routes for adult and juvenile alewives, and
  • Install a fish trap and counter to monitor and help manage the Presumpscot alewife population.

The restoration project was ultimately funded and completed with support from a broad array of partners, including:

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program,
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, Engineering Division and Fish Passage Program),
  • Maine Dept. of Marine Resources,
  • Casco Bay Estuary Partnership,
  • Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership,
  • Kleinschmidt and Associates,
  • National Fish and Wildlife Federation, 
  • Town of Westbrook,
  • Highland Lake Association, and
  • nearby landowners.

This restoration project provides alewives with access to 640-acre Highland Lake for spawning and nursery habitat. With fish passage restored, Highland Lake will produce an estimated 150,000 adult and 1,000,000 juvenile alewives annually. Alewives from Highland Lake travel to Mill Brook, the Presumpscot River, Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine, creating a healthier and more diverse watershed by providing vital nutrients and forage along the entire route. In spring, alewives swim to freshwater lakes to spawn. In summer and fall, adults and juveniles return to the ocean, traveling as far as 120 miles offshore. Between and within these habitats, nearly everything eats alewives: striped bass, cod, haddock, brook trout, landlocked salmon, bass, pickerel, perch, seabirds, bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, gulls, terns, cormorants, seals, whales, otter, mink, fox, raccoon and turtles.  Alewives have been central to the web of life in Maine for millennia. If we give alewives a chance by helping restore them to their spawning grounds, alewives will once again play an important role in bringing our rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans back to life. In return, we will be treated to exuberance and bounty in Maine’s watersheds, in a way that none of us have fully experienced in our lifetimes. To learn more about Maine alewives, visit http://www.fws.gov/GOMCP/factsheets.html.

As water quality and air quality have improved in the Presumpscot River watershed in recent years, grassroots, state and federal efforts have expanded to permanently protect and restore lakes, streams and rivers. In the last few years, several early initiatives to permanently protect and restore riparian habitat for fish and wildlife and to enhance recreational trail use have come to fruition. Much remains to be done in the Presumpscot watershed, but environmental successes to-date speak to active and effective conservation partnerships involving concerned citizens, locally-based organizations, town officials, and state and federal natural resource agencies. Together, conservation partners are committed to bringing the Presumpscot River and its watershed back to life as a cornerstone of community, state and national pride!

Back to top
Highland Lake Dam restoration site
Pleasant Bay region. Credit: MCHT

Two million dollars in federal funds to Maine to support habitat protection partnerships

July 21, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Gulf of Maine Coastal Program is delighted to announce that the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grant program awarded nearly two million dollars to support two habitat protection initiatives in coastal Maine this week.

Kennebec estuary
Kennebec estuary. Credit: USFWS

One grant was awarded to support habitat protection efforts along the shores of the Lower Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay in mid-coast Maine. A second grant was awarded to support habitat protection work in the coastal lands surrounding Pleasant Bay in downeast Maine. Together, these two projects will permanently protect more than 1,500 acres of high value coastal wetlands and associated upland buffer, and will leverage an additional $4 million in non-federal matching funds. Most lands protected will be managed in perpetuity by Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Great Auk Land Trust, Lower Kennebec Region Land Trust or Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. Both land protection projects focus on protecting important habitat that supports large concentrations of migrating or wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, seabirds, searun fish, and rare and endangered species. In addition, properties protected with the federal grants guarantee public access.

The Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition, a group of federal, state and non-governmental conservation groups committed to permanently protect Maine's wetlands, coordinated and supported both initiatives. Coalition partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Trust for Public Lands. Coalition members worked in close coordination with federal grant administrators from our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office, local land trusts, and many generous landowners committed to conservation. All partners deserve tremendous credit in achieving these important conservation successes.

Both of these federal grants continue to partnership between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Maine, land trusts and landowners to protect significant fish and wildlife habitat before it is lost to development. This is the fifth NAWCA grant in the Kennebec Estuary and the second NAWCA grant in the Pleasant Bay region. In the last decade, two grant programs administered through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Program and the National Coastal Wetland Grant Program have supported 39 successful habitat protection projects in Maine by providing $17 million in federal funds to help Maine protect more than 1.5 million acres of high value habitat.

Back to top
Screenshot of GOMCP's new homepage
New homepage. Credit: USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program website launched

July 5, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program is delighted to announce the launching of our new website at www.fws.gov/northeast/gulfofmaine. The new website is designed to clearly describe who we are and what we do, and lead conservation partners to helpful resources for identifying priority habitats or implementing on-the-ground habitat protection and restoration initiatives. Our new website includes:

  • contact information,
  • staff directory,
  • driving directions to our office,
  • recent news releases produced by our office. (News releases are available in html format for on-screen viewing and are also available for journalists as a downloadable media package, complete with Microsoft Word text and high resolution photos suitable for publication).
  • an overview of the work we do and the kinds of technical and biological support we offer,
  • resource information on federal grant programs we have used in Maine to support ambitious habitat protection and restoration initiatives,
  • lists of useful fact sheets, reports and key websites,
  • access to biological data and habitat maps, and
  • an ecological orientation to the Gulf of Maine

In the past decade, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has been instrumental in working with conservation partners to bring more than $32 million in federal funds to support Maine conservation projects, leveraging those federal funds 5:1. We have collaborated with a diverse array of federal and state agencies, non-government conservation organizations, town officials, business partners and landowners to:

  • identify high priority areas for habitat protection and restoration,
  • permanently protect more than 1.6 million acres of important habitat for migratory birds, searun fish and federally threatened and endangered animals, and
  • complete habitat restoration projects at more than 140 sites, including seabird nesting islands, salt marshes and rivers

For more information on what we do and how we can help, check out our new website!

We developed the website with professional support from Headwaters Writing Design, based in Camden, Maine. Please feel free to get in touch with Stewart Fefer at Gulf of Maine Coastal Program at 207-781-8364 if you have comments on the website, questions about our office activities, or potential projects to discuss.

Back to top
Salmon atlas map
Salmon atlas map. Credit: USFWS

Maine Atlantic Salmon Habitat Analysis: Third Edition now available

May 16, 2006

Project Coordinators:
Alex Abbott
207-781-8364 x21
alexoabbott@hotmail.com

Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x17
jed_wright@fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission are pleased to announce the publication of the third edition of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Habitat Atlas which provides detailed maps of Atlantic salmon spawning and rearing habitat along 16 rivers in Maine. This replaces the second edition that was completed last fall. Habitat information is available for all surveyed portions of the following watersheds: Aroostook, Dennys, Ducktrap, East Machias, Kennebec, Machias, Narraguagus, Passagassawakeag, Penobscot, Pleasant, Presumpscot, Saco, St. George, Sheepscot, Tunk and Union River.

According to Joan Trial from the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, "More than 30 fisheries biologists and GIS specialists have been involved in completing this important undertaking over the past decade." Habitat data was collected between 1983 and 2005 by more than 30 field biologists from the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Maine Fisheries Program Complex. Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems supplied basemap information, which was modified as needed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. Staff at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission developed the habitat data for the completed Atlas. "Thanks goes to many individuals and organizations that provided important support, and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission for providing funds needed to complete this most recent edition of the Atlas," said Jed Wright from the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program.

The Atlas and associated GIS data provides a helpful tool for Atlantic salmon researchers, resource managers involved in fish stocking and habitat restoration, and land trusts focusing on habitat protection. Alex Abbott, a GIS specialist and contractor actively engaged in completing the Atlas remarked, "Work is already underway to add more information to a future edition of the Atlas that will incorporate data from the St. Croix River, as well as additional historical survey data from Marsh Stream, Machias and East Machias tributaries."

To access the Atlas and view surveyed spawning and rearing habitat and other significant points of interest along specific rivers in PDF file format, go to the Maine Office of GIS website at http://apollo.ogis.state.me.us, select "Maps," find the "Maine Atlantic Salmon Habitat Map Series" and select the watershed of interest to you. You can view the data directly from the website, but if you are interested in frequently accessing data for a specific river system, you will want to download the information for quicker access.

If you want more detail than the Atlas provides, and if you have GIS software, you can access an ESRI ArcView Shapefile and metadata. The Shapefile provides information on the year and type of survey, along with the total area of habitat units (runs, riffles, falls and flats and associated spawning habitat) along the surveyed rivers. Go to the Maine Office of GIS website catalog at http://apollo.ogis.state.me.us/catalog, select "ASHAB3." Click "Show data" to download the zipped ArcView Shapefile or "View metadata" to learn more about the data.

If you want even more detail than the Maine Office of GIS website catalog provides, and if you have GIS software, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program can provide an additional ESRI ArcView Shapefile and metadata. The Shapefile provides information on substrate composition, habitat unit dimensions and other variables. Request this Shapefile from Alex Abbott (207-781-8364 x21: alexoabbott@hotmail.com) or Jed Wright at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program (207-781-8364 x12 ; Jed_Wright@fws.gov).

For more information, please contact:

  • Alex Abbott c/o Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4R Fundy Rd. Falmouth, ME 04105 207-781-8364
  • Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, 650 State Street, Bangor, ME 04401 207-941-4449
Back to top

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program played active role in planning Maine's first Coastal Waters Conference

May 12, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

On April 10, Maine's first Coastal Waters Conference attracted approximately 500 people currently involved in Maine coast resource management issues. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Project Leader served on the Conference Steering Committee, and Senior Biologist Sandra Lary played a key role in coordinating the afternoon break-out session on Diadromous Fish. The Conference targeted state regulators and provided them with key information pertaining issues facing the coast. The Conference also attracted others who use scientific information for coastal decision-making -- including academics, environmental consultants, resource managers from municipal, state and federal agencies and NGOs, and students. Keynote addresses were presented in the morning by:

  • David Townsend, Professor of Oceanography and Director of School of Marine Sciences who spoke about "Coastal Ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine.
  • George LaPointe, Commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources who spoke about "Management of Maine's Coastal Waters,"
  • Evan Richert, Associate Research Professor -- Planning, Development and Environment, Muskie School of Public Service who spoke about "Changing Demographic Patterns in Coastal Maine."

Afternoon breakout sessions allowed conference participants to delve into issues of interest in greater detail. Major conference themes included:

  • Our Changing Coast
  • Water Quality/Toxics
  • Coastal Habitats
  • Linking Land Use to Coastal Resource Health
  • Diadromous Fish
  • Emerging Issues

The Conference was sponsored and planned by Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Sea Grant Program, Maine State Planning Office's Coastal Program, The Nature Conservancy, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, US Geological Survey - Eastern Region, US Fish and Wildlife Service / National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Back to top
Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund award
MASCF award. Credit: USFWS

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and partners receive Cooperative Conservation Award for Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund

May 12, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x17
jed_wright@fws.gov

On May 4, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and other Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund (MASCF) partners from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation participated in an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. to accept the Secretary of the Interior’s 2005 Cooperative Conservation Award. This honorary award recognizes outstanding cooperative conservation achievements accomplished with a diverse range of partners including federal, state, local and tribal governments, private for-profit and nonprofit institutions, other nongovernmental entities and individuals.

The Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund was one of 13 programs nationwide to receive the prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding cooperative conservation achievements accomplished with a diverse array of collaborating partners. Partners accepting the award at the ceremony on behalf of the entire Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund included:

  • Jed Wright, MASCF Program Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
  • Tom Kelsch, Director of Conservation Programs, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Jonathan Mawdsley, MASCF Program Coordinator, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Stewart Fefer, Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
  • Pat Keliher, Executive Director, Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission
  • Andy Goode, Vice President, U.S. Programs Atlantic Salmon Federation

The Cooperative Conservation Award was presented by Lynn Scarlett, Acting Secretary of Interior Matt Hogan, Acting Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the 63rd Honor Awards Convocation in the Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C.

The Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund was established in October, 2000 through a special appropriation sponsored by Maine's Congressional delegation. In the five years since its inception, the Fund has supported more than 100 projects that promote the recovery of Atlantic salmon. Access has been restored to many miles of historic salmon habitat, and 54,000 acres of riparian habitat along salmon rivers have been permanently protected. In addition, the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund has supported education initiatives, helped local NGO's build capacity, and supported surveys and applied research needed to implement high priority acquisition and restoration activities. The Fund has also assisted agriculture and aquaculture industries develop practices that minimize impacts to wild Atlantic salmon. Grants have helped stimulate collaboration among state and federal agencies, local industry, community watershed councils, and conservation groups. Since its inception, the Fund has provided $8.7 million in federal funds, and has helped leveraged an additional $13 million for Atlantic salmon conservation.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program jointly administer the program in partnership with Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine State Planning Office, Land for Maine's Future Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Maine-Machias, Wild Blueberry Commission, and local conservation groups.

Back to top

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program participates in public meeting for upcoming Nonesuch River saltmarsh restoration project in Scarborough Maine

May 6, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

On May 3, USFWS-Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Senior Fish and Wildlife Biologist Sandra Lary, Scott Lindsay of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Wayne Munroe of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Dan Baumert of the Natural Resources Conservation Service hosted a public information session to present the plan to restore the Nonesuch River Saltmarsh and to answer questions from the public.

Nonesuch River Saltmarsh is one of the major tributaries of the Scarborough River and makes up a sizeable section of the 3,000 acre Scarborough Marsh State Wildlife Management Area. The restoration project at Nonesuch River involves controlling Phragmites, an invasive plant species, and restoring the natural hydrologic conditions. This will be accomplished by breaching an abandoned hay road that acts as a berm and impedes tidal flow into the marsh, and by reducing the excessive drainage from colonial-era agricultural ditches. The project is scheduled to be completed this year, with post-restoration monitoring continuing until 2011.

Sandra Lary has played a key role in the project planning and implementation process through partner coordination and collaboration, by conducting the site habitat assessment, developing the restoration design, assisting with the complex permitting requirements, developing a pre-restoration and post-restoration monitoring protocol, construction and monitoring oversight, and identifying funding sources.

Other partners involved in this project include: Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Friends of Scarborough Marsh, Fish America Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, SWAMP Inc., and Northern Ecological Associates.

Back to top
Salmon parr
Salmon parr. Credit: USFWS

Request for proposals from Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund

April 29, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x17
jed_wright@fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are pleased to announce a Request for Proposals for the 2006 Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund. This year, the program will award approximately $1 million funds through a competitive grants process for projects that directly benefit the recovery of Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot River watershed and in the watersheds containing Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of Atlantic salmon listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Projects in other drainages may also be eligible for funding, as long as the project demonstrates a strong direct link to Atlantic salmon conservation.

The Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund was established in October, 2000 through a special appropriation sponsored by Maine's Congressional delegation. In the five years since its inception, the Fund has supported more than 100 projects that promote the recovery of Atlantic salmon. Access has been restored to dozens of miles of historic salmon habitat and 54,000 acres of riparian habitat along salmon rivers have been permanently protected. In addition, the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund has supported education initiatives, helped local NGO's build capacity, and supported surveys and applied research needed to implement high priority acquisition and restoration activities. The Fund has also assisted agriculture and aquaculture industries develop practices that minimize impacts to wild Atlantic salmon. Grants have helped stimulate collaboration among state and federal agencies, local industry, community watershed councils, and conservation groups. Since its inception, the Fund has provided $8.7 million in federal funds, and has helped leveraged an additional $13 million for Atlantic salmon conservation. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program jointly administer the program in partnership with Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine State Planning Office, Land for Maine's Future Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Maine-Machias, Wild Blueberry Commission, and local conservation groups.

With the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Funds available this year, "we expect to direct roughly one-quarter of the funds to Assessment and Prioritization activities, another one-quarter to Outreach and Education, and the remaining funds to on-the-ground habitat restoration and protection projects," commented Jonathan Mawdsley from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

"For more information about the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund, for additional information on this year's Request for Proposals, and for a grant application form, check out the website at http://www.nfwf.org/programs/mascf. We strongly encourage all potential applicants to contact me or Jonathan early in the process of developing proposals for technical support," commented Jed Wright from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program.

Completed proposals must be postmarked by Friday, June 15, 2006. Grant awards will by announced Friday, Sept 29, 2006.

Contact information:

Jonathan Mawdsley
Program Director, Eastern Region
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
Jonathan.Mawdsley@nfwf.org

Jed Wright
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
(207) 781-8364 ext. 12
Jed_Wright@fws.gov

Back to top

Land protection success stories

April 4, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Gulf of Maine Coastal Program is delighted to announce several Maine habitat protection success stories that have been funded with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dollars and non-federal matching funds. First, we received notice that four Small North American Wetland Conservation Act grant proposals were funded. Next, we learned that National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Act funds to protect lands near Reversing Falls in Cobscook Bay have been released. Finally, all of the funds from the Phase I Large NAWCA grant have been spent, protecting multiple islands and coastal wetland parcels in the Greater Pleasant Bay region in downeast Maine. In total, these projects alone have brought $1,369,800 of federal dollars to Maine and will be used to permanently protect 1,676 acres of high value fish and wildlife habitat through local and statewide land trusts. Conservation partners provided an additional $2.9 million in non-federal matching funds.

Recipients of the four Small NAWCA proposals ($50,000 maximum federal funds) include:

  • Damariscotta River Association for important coastal wetland property
  • York Land Trust for salt marsh habitat and upland buffer along the York River,
  • Great Works Region Land Trust for forested wetland and vernal pool property in the Tatnic Hills, and
  • The Nature Conservancy (Maine Chapter) for floodplain forest along the Upper Saco River

The Coastal Wetland Grant to protect the 256.8 acre Cobscook Falls property will be owned and managed by Quoddy Region Land Trust, with a reverter clause to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Maine Coast Heritage Trust played a pivotal role in acquisition negotiations and details.

The Phase I Large NAWCA grant has protected 889 acres in the Greater Pleasant Bay region. Multiple parcels, including islands and coastal wetlands will be owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Great Auk Land Trust, and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff worked closely with conservation partners by

  • providing strategic advice on important details relating to accessing these federal funds,
  • providing and interpreting biological data from our Gulf of Maine habitat analysis and data from state agencies and NGOs, derived from Beginning with Habitat, and
  • writing biological components of the final grant proposals, reviewing and extensively commenting on draft texts, and/or providing samples of successful proposals from previous years,
  • reviewing budgetary requirements, and
  • calculating wetland acreages and completing maps to accompany the proposals.

In addition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, our Regional Office staff that coordinate the National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, staff at Maine Coast Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy, staff and volunteers of local land trusts, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and generous and committed landowners all deserve tremendous credit in achieving these important conservation successes.

Back to top
Machias River aerial photo
Machias River. Credit: USFWS

Machias River project receives second national award

March 23, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x17
jed_wright@fws.gov

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program is proud to be honored on March 21 as one of 17 recipients of the U.S. Forest Service "Wings Across the Americas Award" for our partnership work that led to the completion of all three phases of the Machias River Project. This award follows a 2004 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national partnership award for the Phase I portion of the Machias River Project. When all three phases of the Machias River Project are completed, 59,793 acres will be protected by fee acquisition and conservation easements - including 312 miles of lake, river and stream shoreline. The riparian acquisition project is designed to permanently protect high value habitat for federally listed Atlantic salmon, as well as other native fish and wildlife that depend on healthy riparian corridors.

The Machias River Project connects to other state and private conservation lands, creating a total landscape of 443,465 acres of ecologically and economically significant lands and waters protected with ecological reserves, stream and lakeside buffers and sustainably managed forests. In total, partners have raised more than $12 million to support the project. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with coordination and support from the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, New England Field Office and staffs at the Regional Office and Washington levels, have provided $3.85 million of that total - including $2 million from USFWS Endangered Species Recovery Funds, $1.4 million from the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund (co-administered by our office and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) and $450K from the North Cape Oil Spill mitigation funds.

Back to top
Upper Saco River
Upper Saco. Credit: TNC

Four small NAWCA proposals funded in Maine

March 23, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program was delighted to learn this week that the following four Small North American Wetland Conservation Act grant proposals were funded in Maine. Our office played a large role in helping support each of the grant proposals by working closely with each of the land trusts by:

  • providing strategic advice on important details relating to accessing NAWCA funds,
  • providing samples of successful proposals from previous years
  • reviewing and extensively commenting on draft texts,
  • reviewing budgetary requirements
  • providing and interpreting biological data from our Gulf of Maine habitat analysis and Beginning with Habitat
  • calculating wetland acreages and completing maps to accompany the proposals.

In total, the four projects received $191,800 of federal NAWCA funds, provided $1.3 million in non-federal matching funds, and helped secure 530.2 acres of high value wetland and associated upland buffer habitat. The four funded proposals include:

Richardson Seal Cove, South Bristol: 43.2 acres, $50,000 NAWCA funds, $700,000 in matching funds. This is part of the Damariscotta River Association's Seal Cove Conservation Initiative, designed to protect coastal wetlands for waterbirds, raptors and diadromous fish in Seal Cove.

Blaisdell-Clough parcels on York River: 50 acres, $41,800 NAWCA funds, $247,700 in matching funds. This is part of the 48,000 acre Mount Agamenticus to the Sea conservation campaign, specifically focusing on the York Land Trust's interest in protecting a "ribbon of green" along the York River's expansive salt marsh.

Tatnic Hill Wetlands, South Berwick: 29 acres, $50,000 NAWCA funds, $211,000 in matching funds. This is part of the 48,000 acre Mount Agamenticus to the Sea conservation campaign region, specifically focusing on the Great Work Land Trust's interest in the 3,000-acre Tatnic Conservation Focus Area, which provides habitat for wading birds, waterfowl, songbirds, amphibians and state-endangered and threatened reptiles.

Upper Saco River Project, Fryburg: 408 acres (easement), $50,000 NAWCA funds, $155,000 non-matching funds. The Upper Saco River watershed, one of the largest unfragmented tracts of floodplain forest in New England, is part of a priority conservation area for The Nature Conservancy (Maine Chapter). This parcel provides high value habitat for waterbirds, amphibians, turtles, wide-ranging mammals and is expected to be part of a total of 8,500 acres of protected or soon-to-be protected floodplain forests.

Back to top
Black duck
Black duck. Credit: USFWS

Cobscook Falls Coastal Wetland Grant finalized

March 23, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

Four Cobscook Falls properties in Cobscook Bay, totaling 225.4 acres, were finally and permanently protected this month with a National Coastal Wetland Conservation Act grant. The properties will be owned and managed by Quoddy Regional Land Trust, with a reverter clause to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program worked closely with multiple partners to finalize the proposal concept, and Gulf of Maine Coastal Program remained fully involved by providing and interpreting biological data, writing the grant proposal, creating maps and calculating wetland acreages, coordinating a site visit, and working behind-the-scenes with partners to keep the project on track for the past two years. Dan Leahy, Regional Federal Aid Coordinator, as well as staff at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Quoddy Region Land Trust, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the generous and committed landowner all deserve tremendous credit in achieving this important conservation success.

Cobscook Bay is widely recognized as the premier coastal wildlife concentration site in the northerastern United States, with international significance from the perspective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation partners for its relatively undisturbed, species-rich marine and intertidal ecosystems. The Bay's extensive and unspoiled shoreline, with sheltered coves, extensive low-tide mudflats, fringing salt marshes, rocky intertidal zone and subtidal eelgrass beds offer critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds, a diverse and abundant assemblage of wintering and migrating waterfowl, bald eagles and diadromous fish, including federally listed Atlantic salmon attracted the Denny's River, as well as smelt, alewife, shad, sea-run brook trout, striped bass and American eel.

The Cobscook Bay region is seeing intensifying pressure and rapidly escalating prices as potential summer home owners and retirees look beyond the crowded and expensive shoreline to the south. Therefore, protecting the Cobscook Falls property, in the heart of the Bay, is of vital importance in protecting high value habitat before it is forever lost to development.

Back to top
Pinkham
Pinkham. Credit: USFWS

Pleasant Bay Phase I Large NAWCA grant acquisitions completed

March 23, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

The Pleasant Bay Phase I Large NAWCA grant acquisitions have been completed this month. Conservation partners have used the $650,000 NAWCA grant to permanently protect 889 acres, including 511 acres of coastal wetlands. (This exceeded our grant proposal commitment to use the NAWCA funds to acquire and protect 762 acres). Gulf of Maine Coastal Program worked closely with conservation partners at Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Great Auk Region Land Trust and Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to develop and implement the grant. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program gathered and analyzed biological data, wrote the biological components of the grant proposal, reviewed and edited the budgetary section of the proposal, calculated wetland acreages and created maps, developed GIS maps to track conservation land ownership, coordinated site visits, and is currently administering the grant on behalf of our conservation partners. Four islands and one coastal wetland property were provided as non-federal match, and the following biologically important island and coastal wetland properties were acquired with NAWCA funds:

  • Sawyer Marsh: 100 acres, $24,000 NAWCA funds, fee ownership to Maine Coastal Islands NWR
  • Harper property, West Carrying Place Cove : 143 acres, $95,000 NAWCA funds, fee ownership to Great Auk Region Land Trust
  • Back Bay Farm, Beaver Meadow Brook: 19 acres, $17,000 NAWCA funds, fee ownership to Great Auk Region Land Trust
  • Pinkham Island: 272 acres, $504,000 NAWCA funds, fee ownership to Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Conservation biologists have long recognized the exceptional habitat values for wetland-dependent species in the Pleasant Bay region. The high biological productivity, the extensive intertidal mudflats, fringing salt marshes and the relatively pristine nature of the shoreline provide outstanding habitat for large concentrations of wintering and migrating black ducks, other waterfowl and migratory shorebirds. Many nesting islands in the region provide important habitat for bald eagles and seabirds, including some seabirds that nest in no other states in the United States. Although there has been significant habitat protection work accomplished in the region, very little of the habitat with highest value for wintering and migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, concentrated in the long, narrow tidal embayments has been permanently protected. In addition, nearly half of the 48 nationally significant nesting islands in the area were not permanently protected. Moreover, key shorefront parcels are now being discovered by developers and sold for second homes - often with negative impact on abutting wetlands and waterbird habitat. Therefore, Large NAWCA grants are playing an important role in catalyzing significant conservation work in the Pleasant Bay region. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program continues to finalize administrative requirements in completing the Phase I grant and has recently submitted a Phase II Large NAWCA proposal to continue habitat protection work in this important region.

Back to top
York River
York River. Credit: USFWS

One million dollar NAWCA grant awarded to help protect York River

January 4, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

One million dollars from the federal North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) was obligated this week, providing the dollars needed for Gulf of Maine Coastal Program to administer a Large NAWCA grant and help the York Land Trust acquire more than 200 acres of salt marsh and upland buffer in the upper reaches of the York River in southern Maine. An additional 700 acres of wetlands, forested uplands, vernal pools and coastal lands valued at more than $2 million have been provided as non-federal match in support of the grant. The York River, a wetland complex long recognized for its significant habitat values, is the last large salt marsh in southern Maine not significantly protected in conservation ownership. Because development pressures are severe in southern Maine, the York Land Trust is working in concert with federal, state, and other local conservation partners to protect the remarkably pristine York River corridor while it remains intact.

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff, along with Andrew Milliken and Mitch Hartley in the Division of Migratory Birds in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Regional Office provided substantial technical support in developing the successful grant proposal. Last winter, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Outreach Specialist Lois Winter worked closely with the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Coalition (MtA2C) -- including three local and three statewide land trusts, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Rachel Carson NWR -- to develop the conceptual framework for a Large NAWCA proposal. Lois also served as liaison to the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition, researched and wrote the biological components of the proposal and coordinated closely with partners who developed the budgetary components of the proposal. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program biologists Bob Houston and Jean Fujikawa provided habitat maps and wetland calculations. The York Land Trust submitted the completed North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant proposal for consideration in March, 2005, and we received word that the grant was awarded in October, 2005. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program agreed to administer the grant.

"This most recent Large NAWCA grant in the York River is one of twelve Large NAWCA grants our office has supported, as an active member of the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition," commented Gulf of Maine Coastal Program's Project Leader Stewart Fefer. "Since the early 1990's, Large NAWCA grants alone have brought nearly $10 million federal dollars to Maine. Together with non-federal matching funds, the Large NAWCA dollars have helped protect nearly 1.5 million acres of high value wetlands and upland buffer in Maine," continued Fefer. Statewide, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program looks forward to continuing its work with the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition, and in southern Maine, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program expects to support future federal grants to protect the York River corridor -- for more than 100 species of waterbirds and at least 28 species of fish that depend on the York River -- and for people that also need scenic vistas, a sense of wildness and opportunities for outdoor recreation in their lives.

Back to top
Mill Brook
Mill Brook. Credit: USFWS

Mill Brook salt marsh restoration

January 3, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

After several years of assessment, planning and coordination by local volunteers, and multiple state and federal natural resource managers, Mill Brook, a 381-acre section of Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area was restored in 2005. Mill Brook salt marsh had been degraded by man-made ditches and upland land uses. Ditches were first constructed in the 1600s to facilitate the growth of salt hay by farmers, and additional ditches were dug in the 1960s, in a misguided attempt to reduce mosquito populations. Drainage ditches reduced the biological vitality of the salt marsh by limiting the frequency and duration of salt water wettings by the tides. Land-use activities on nearby uplands, including housing developments and golf courses, also negatively impacted Mill Brook by concentrating polluted freshwater run-off on the marsh surface. In recent years, Phragmites, a highly invasive plant, also appeared in Mill Brook.

The Scarborough Marsh Restoration Team (Friends of Scarborough Marsh, Maine Department Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Protection Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service) implemented the Mill Brook restoration project by plugging selected ditches to improve hydrology, and removing multiple stands of Phragmites to minimize the threat of broad-scale invasion. Mill Brook now sees the regular tidal wettings needed for vigorous and diverse salt marsh vegetation communities to grow and for the saltwater pools on the surface of the marsh to be refreshed. Saltwater pools provide important habitat for small native fish, which eat mosquito larvae, and which provide food for larger fish and wading birds, shorebirds and waterfowl that depend on the marsh to feed and roost.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided biological, technical and financial support that helped move this project towards successful completion. Initially Lois Winter, and later, Sandra Lary, Senior Fish and Wildlife Biologist, worked with partners to complete the biological site evaluation required for the restoration design. Sandra also initiated an intensive water quality assessment of the freshwater runoff onto the marsh. The data, collected by environmental consultants documented that the runoff was contaminated with high levels of fecal coliform and zinc. The data was essential to the subsequent design of the project, and care was taken by the Restoration Team to maintain the filtration capacity of the salt marsh. Additionally, a local interest group initiated an independent program to monitor and address water quality issues in the Mill Brook area. Sandra also coordinated with partners to assist with cultural resource and state permitting requirements, to develop a pre- and post-restoration monitoring plan, and to locate needed funds. Other Restoration Team partners also provided technical, biological, engineering, outreach and financial support. Natural Resources Conservation Service contributed $120,000 through its Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided $22,000, and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. will be providing an estimated $26,000 for post-restoration monitoring in FY06 and FY09.

Since 2002, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has been an active player in the Scarborough Marsh Restoration Team, which has completed a comprehensive inventory of restoration priorities and implemented and monitored three restoration projects totaling more than 500 acres. In addition, the Team has completed significant planning and design work for two more pending salt marsh restoration projects. Together, these five projects will restore biological vitality at highest priority restoration sites covering nearly one-third of Scarborough Marsh. "We are very pleased to be a key member of this large partnership effort to restore Maine's largest and most biologically diverse salt marsh. Important progress has been made, and more remains to be done to restore the Marsh and protect its upland buffer. We hope to continue providing important technical and financial support for this vital effort," commented Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Project Leader Stewart Fefer.

Back to top
Thomas Island
Thomas Island. Credit: USFWS

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program helps protect Thomas Island

January 3, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer
207-781-8364 x17
stewart_fefer@fws.gov

Sixty-four acre Thomas Island, surrounded by 58 acres of intertidal wetlands and located in the biologically rich Mount Desert Narrows was permanently protected on Thursday, December 29 with a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant. Thomas Island is the largest of the islands in a three-island archipelago, located near Acadia National Park and adjacent to South Twinnie Island, an eagle nesting island owned and managed as part of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the middle of the Mount Desert Narrows, the swift currents and shallow waters surrounding Thomas Island provide important habitat for wintering and migrating black ducks, other dabblers, divers and sea ducks, migrating shorebirds, wading birds and foraging, migratory, and wintering peregrine falcons and bald eagles. Thomas Island also provides undisturbed foraging, loafing and roosting habitat, as well as alternate nesting sites for the South Twinnie eagles.

Thomas Island is now permanently owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Acquisition was funded with a $453,000 National Coastal Wetland Grant, a bargain sale from the landowner, and additional financial support from Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Maine Coast Heritage Trust played the lead role in negotiating with the landowner, writing the final grant proposal and following through on all legal requirements that led to the transfer of ownership. Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife served as the grantee for the Coastal Wetland Grant, and agreed to transfer the acquisition funds to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, identified in the Coastal Wetland Grant proposal as the subgrantee.

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff played an active role in facilitating the permanent protection of Thomas Island. Outreach Specialist Lois Winter coordinated with partners to finalize the proposal and successfully meet the end-of-year closing deadline. Lois also played a significant role in providing technical support, reviewing and editing the grant proposal, writing a letter of support, and interpreting biological data from our GIS habitat analysis and that helped characterize the considerable biological values of Thomas Island and its surrounding mudflats. Bob Houston and Jean Fujikawa at Gulf of Maine Coastal Program also provided maps and wetland calculations used in the final proposal. Andrew Milliken, NAWCA Regional Coordinator conducted a site visit that helped support the proposal through the nationwide grant selection process. Dan Leahey, Federal Aid Coordinator at the Regional Office, deserves special accolades for supporting the grant proposal through the competitive grant approval process and lending technical expertise to partners in shepherding partners through the required paperwork, processing the grant application, and finalizing the grant award by the end-of-year deadline required by the landowner.

Permanently protecting Maine's coastal habitat for waterbirds, endangered species and diadromous fish has always been a primary purpose of the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and our conservation partners. Thomas Island represents our tenth successful Coastal Wetland Grant proposal. In total, Coastal Wetland Grants have provided $2.863 million in federal funds to help protect five islands, five mainland properties and nearly 2,500 acres in coastal Maine. "The Thomas Island success story serves as another great example of how conservation partners draw upon collective skills and strengths to accomplish projects that might otherwise remain lost opportunities. We are grateful to the landowner, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and our Regional Federal Aid staff for helping us make this project a success," commented Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Project Leader Stewart Fefer.

Back to top

Spring River lands adjacent to Narraguagus River permanently protected

January 3, 2006

Project Coordinator:
Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x17
jed_wright@fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contributed $600,000 of the $2.2 million required to purchase 9,939 acres of lands and waters adjacent to 13.4 miles of the Spring River and the West Branch of the Narraguagus River. The Nature Conservancy - Maine Chapter (TNC) played the lead role in negotiating, coordinating, funding and finalizing this important land protection project. Purchased from H.C. Haynes, a commercial timber harvester, the Spring River property will now be owned and managed in perpetuity by The Nature Conservancy (Maine Chapter). Combined with 14,000 acres of previously protected land surrounding Donnell Pond, the Spring River acquisition will create an impressive 24,000-acre stretch of contiguous conservation lands that will be managed as an ecological reserve.

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided technical and financial support that helped move this project towards successful completion. Jed Wright, Field Coordinator for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-funded Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund (MASCF), worked with partners and MASCF board members to contribute $100,000 for the Spring River project. The FWS Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grant (RLAG) provided an additional $500,000 for the project. Jed provided quantitative biological data, based on biological surveys conducted by Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries biologists, that helped document Atlantic salmon habitat values and justify funding from both grants. According to the analysis, the Spring River parcel contains 25,000 square meters of juvenile Atlantic salmon rearing habitat and 1,287 square meters of spawning habitat - constituting 5% of the drainage's total rearing habitat and 4% of the drainage's total spawning habitat. Gulf of Maine Coastal Program's Gulf of Maine watershed-wide GIS habitat analysis also documented that the Spring River property provides important habitat for other diadromous fish, including eel, American shad and alewives, and for 41 species of rare or declining migratory birds that depend on forested, riparian and freshwater wetland habitats.

The permanent protection of Spring Brook in the Narraguagus River watershed, is one more example of successful land protection efforts that can contribute to the recovery of endangered Atlantic salmon populations in Maine. Since 1996, the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has worked with Atlantic salmon conservation partners in Maine to help permanently protect nearly 60,000 acres and 385 river-miles along the banks of Maine's eight listed Atlantic salmon rivers. These efforts have protected most of the riparian habitat along the Dennys, Machias and Ducktrap Rivers, as well as sizeable portions of riparian habitat along the Pleasant and Sheepscot Rivers. This important work protects habitat for Atlantic salmon, as well as all of Maine's other diadromous fish, migratory birds and other wildlife and plants that depend on healthy riparian corridors. "Protecting riparian habitat along the listed Atlantic salmon rivers today provides needed habitat for many trust species in perpetuity, including Atlantic salmon when they recover from their current precarious status," commented Project Leader Stewart Fefer.

Back to top
   
Last updated: September 5, 2013

Northeast Region Ecological Services

Northeast Region Home

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  | USA.gov  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA