Projects > Studies
and Information About York's Rivers, Maine > General Studies
on the York River
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.)
Fred Short, Jackson
Estuarine Lab. 603-862-2175. University office: 603-659-3313. Portsmouth
Naval Shipyard, Kittery ME, Environmental Division.
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.
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.
Maine Coastal Program. 1-800-662-4545
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
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
Maine Coastal Program. 1-800-662-4545
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.
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.
is a synopsis of the report's recommendations:
Timber harvesting was causing some erosion problems, including
undersized culverts that might fail during rain storms.
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.
Boatyards and Marinas should implement Best Management Practices.
Pursue grants from the state to fix overboard discharges: in 1995,
there were 13 residential, 1 commercial, 1 public.
York Harbor dredging should take proper care with contaminated
Development recommendations (both residential and commercial):
include erosion control for new homes, commercial developments,
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.
educate homeowners and business owners to limit use of herbicides,
pesticides, disposal of household chemicals, disposal of pet
encourage proper maintenance, inspection, and pumpout of septic
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?
Deborah (Wenz) St. Pierre, York Soil and Water Conservation
District, District Office Manager. 207-324-7915, YORK.SWCD@state.me.us
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
G12. York River Survey Report.
York Citizens with assistance from the National Park Service/Appalachian
Mountain Club Rivers & Trails Program. 2001.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
G10. River Network Publications List. River Network.
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
List on the River
Network web site.
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
to the Index.