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Our Projects > Studies and Information About York's Rivers, Maine > General Studies on the York River

G1. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Study. University of New Hampshire, Jackson Estuarine Lab. 1991-92.

The Jackson Estuarine Lab at UNH studied the lower York River as a reference site for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard study on cumulative impacts to the lower Piscataqua River.  The study in the York River concentrated on the harbor area, and included sampling of chlorophyll, temperature, salinity, marine habitat assessment including eelgrass and mussel beds, contamination to these beds, sediments, toxicity tests on sea urchins and amphipods, and a sampling of benthic invertebrates.  (Still getting a physical copy of this study.)

Contact:  Fred Short, Jackson Estuarine Lab. 603-862-2175. University office: 603-659-3313. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery ME, Environmental Division.

G2. York River Watershed Study. Radcliffe Seminars, Landscape Design Program, Environmental Design Studio. 1995.

Site Analysis including: Location, Geographic and Cultural History, Topography, Geology, Soils, Aquifers, Vegetation, Wetlands, Wildlife, Visual Characteristics, Water and Sewer Services, York Zoning and Shoreland Overlay District, Existing Development, Land with Development Potential.  They developed a Master Plan including Goals and Recommendations.

G3. York River Estuary. State Planning Office, Coastal Program. 1990.

This factsheet describes basic characteristics of the York River.  It is useful as a summary of facts About York's Rivers estuary. A possible project would be to update this factsheet, or to encourage the Coastal Program to do so.

Contact:  Stephanie Watson, Maine Coastal Program.  1-800-662-4545

G4. State of the Maine Coast. State Planning Office, Coastal Program. June 1999.

A summary report useful for finding "big-picture" statistics such as changes in seabird population over the past century, current harvests from aquaculture, and lists of threatened coastal plants. Specific mentions of York River are very limited:
  • Soft-shell clam stock in York is rebounding.
  • York River Estuary is on a priority list for non-point source pollution reduction.
  • York River is not listed as having elevated levels of metals or organics in sediments or organismme tissues; this is information is based on Army Corps of Engineers studies of the York Harbor dredge material.

Contact:  Stephanie Watson, Maine Coastal Program.  1-800-662-4545

G5. York River Watershed Evaluation & Management Recommendations. York County Soil & Water Conservation District. 1996.

This land use and water quality evaluation used aerial and satellite photography to map and analyze the York River watershed, primarily with an eye toward potential non-point sources of pollution. This evaluation looked primarily at land use in the watershed. The report categorized land uses, but did not collect water quality data. This report makes fairly standard recommendations for non-point source pollution, tailored only slightly for the York River watershed.  However, it does provide a nice analysis of land use acreages in the York River watershed in 1991, and the Soil and Water Conservation District developed some GIS layers in this report that may be of use in future studies.

Here is a synopsis of the report's recommendations:

  1. Timber harvesting was causing some erosion problems, including undersized culverts that might fail during rain storms.
  2. 183 acres of golf courses in the watershed (1991). Golf course management recommendations: keep records of pesticide/fertilizer use, use Integrated Crop Management to reduce chemical use.
  3. Boatyards and Marinas should implement Best Management Practices.
  4. Pursue grants from the state to fix overboard discharges: in 1995, there were 13 residential, 1 commercial, 1 public.
  5. York Harbor dredging should take proper care with contaminated sediments.
  6. Development recommendations (both residential and commercial):
    1. include erosion control for new homes, commercial developments, and additions,
    2. use designs that allow rainwater runoff to flow off as "sheet flow" (rather than in a pipe) into vegetated filter areas before going into a stream or wetland.
    3. educate homeowners and business owners to limit use of herbicides, pesticides, disposal of household chemicals, disposal of pet wastes.
    4. encourage proper maintenance, inspection, and pumpout of septic systems.
  7. Further study as to whether shoreline zoning is working, including site-specific analysis of recent developments permitted under variances to the ordinance. Should different criteria be used in granting variances or to change the ordinance?
Contact: Deborah (Wenz) St. Pierre, York Soil and Water Conservation District, District Office Manager. 207-324-7915, YORK.SWCD@state.me.us

G6. Comparison of Citizen Views on the York River.  Students from the University of New England, 1996?

This student survey of public opinions About York's Rivers compared an "informed" group of citizens interested in the river (and referred to the students through organizations such as the York Rivers Association) to a random group of York residents, pulled from the phonebook.  The study analyzes the citizens opinions and constrasts the two groups.

G12.  York River Survey Report.  York Citizens with assistance from the National Park Service/Appalachian Mountain Club Rivers & Trails Program.  2001.

Approximately 90 local citizens, including anglers, schoolchildren, educators, town officials and business people, turned out to survey the York River in June 2000, using a simple visual assessment methodology developed by the Massachusetts Adopt-A-Stream program, similar to the EPA's Stream Walk method.

This report summarizes and categorizes their observations.  It includes narratives of the river by segment, segment-by-segment observances, and summaries of assets & potential problems.  It is available online including photograph illustrations.


G7.  Shoreline Survey: A leader's manual.  Massachusetts Riverways Program.  1996.

This manual outlines a volunteer visual monitoring program, analogous to the EPA's Stream Walk (see H8) program.  Volunteers survey the riverbanks, and identify potential problems as well as assets to be protected.  Landowners along the river are particularly invited to participate, and the emphasis is on community stewardship of the river.  Prior to the survey, the participants are trained with an interactive slideshow (a shoreline survey "in the room").  After the survey, the participants come back together to share experiences and develop an action plan based on their observations.  The action planning is facilitated by someone who can make suggestions about what other river or watershed groups have done in similar situations.

Contact:  This program was developed by the Massachusetts Riverways/Adopt-A-Stream Program.  Becka Roolf, now of the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program, used to work for this program, and is experienced in giving the training and facilitating the action planning.  207-725-5028.  DEP is also beginning to work with a "Stream Team" program.  Contact Jeff Varricchionne at 207-822-6317.

One of the most common stewardship requests for riverfront landowners is to maintain a buffer of vegetation along the river.  Riparian buffers serve a whole host of environmental functions, from providing habitat, to filtering out pollution, to preventing flooding, to providing shade for cool water temperatures for fish, to preventing erosion.  As a result, many river organizations have produced materials for waterfront landowners.  This folder is a small sampling of those publications.

Links: The Maine Buffers Handbook presents options to landowners, ranging from a wild buffer to a landscaped buffer, and deals specifically with Maine camps and rural properties. The Waterfront Gardens publication of the Parker River Clean Water Association emphasizes landscaped buffers, and presents landscape designs for buffers that have been planted by homeowners in northeastern Massachusetts. The Rivers Alliance of Connecticut also produced a glossy brochure, The Importance of Streamside Buffers, which is available for distribution.

G9.  Volunteer Estuary Monitoring Manual.  Environmental Protection Agency.  1995.

This manual is analogous to the EPA's Stream Walk manual, but for estuaries.  It includes survey methods for submerged aquatic vegetation such as eelgrass, and provides an overview of estuarine conditions.  Perhaps because this manual is considerably older than the stream manuals, the protocols are less developed.

Link:  EPA Estuary Monitoring Manual.

G10.  River Network Publications List.  River Network.

River Network has published many valuable publications and newsletters to assist river groups.  It is highly recommended to consult this list as a reference for information on any river project, especially ones that involve public outreach, fundraising, or events.

Link:  Publications List on the River Network web site.

EnviroNet coordinates monitoring projects on wildlife, acid rain, vernal pools, and other environmental subjects, using students as monitors that report into Internet databases.  Some of these might be valuable to do in the York River area. Other student resources are ProjectWET and EarthForce.


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