Projects > Studies
and Information About York's Rivers, Maine > A Few Facts
About York's Rivers
York River watershed -- the land that drains
into the York River -- is approximately 32 sq. miles,
and includes a large portion of York, and small sections of Kittery,
Eliot, and South Berwick.
is one of the most rapidly growing towns in Maine, and
the character of the watershed is rapidly changing.
About the River
river's tidal salt marshes represent a significant habitat
in Maine, especially for migratory shorebirds. The watershed includes
approximately 406 acres of tidal marsh (according to a report
by the York County Soil & Water Conservation District, 1996).
tidal portion of river is approximately 8 miles long. The tidal
fluctuation can be more than 10 feet. Much of the river is not
navigable at low tides.
York River is a tidal river, with small unnavigable freshwater
tributaries feeding into a relatively large tidal basin.
The tributaries and ponds of the York River are: (listed from
downstream, headed upstream, the way a spawning alewife would
Cider Hill Creek (N of river), originally known as New Mill
Scituate Pond (dam)
Middle Pond (dam)
Folly Pond (dam)
Libby Brook (S of river), originally known as Old Mill Creek
unnamed brook out of Boulter Pond (dam) (N of river)
Smelt Brook (N. of river)
Belle Marsh reservoir (dam, 1983)
Curtis Ridge Brook (S. of river)
York Pond (dam)
the Use of the River
of the river is meeting its state water quality standards under
the federal Clean Water Act. However, two sections are not meeting
these legally designated uses:
The York River is closed to shellfishing upstream of
Ramshead Point and downstream of Stage Neck due to bacterial
Smelt Brook has low dissolved oxygen, probably due to
the Belle Marsh reservoir dam.
The York River has great fishing for striped bass and flounder.
There is a run of alewives, smelt, and sea-run trout. Even an
Atlantic Salmon was caught in the York River recently, although
the small freshwater input of the York River was probably not
sufficient to support a spawning population, even historically.
York River is also increasingly used for boating, with power boats,
sailboats, and canoes/kayaks all sharing the waters. Waterskiing
and jetskiing are prohibited.
of the Ponds are used for town public water supplies, for towns
adjacent to York. York's water supply comes from the same
area (Chases Pond), but the pond is part of the Cape Neddick River
to Habitat and Species Inventories.
to the Index.