Projects > Studies
and Information About York's Rivers, Maine > Summary and
relatively few reports or studies have been done that focus specifically
on the York River, there are many tidbits of information from
state, federal and local sources. Under each subject area,
this report provides a summary and analysis of gaps in knowledge.
the big picture, studies show the York River to be in fairly good
health, but to be threatened by non-point source pollution and development.
The irony of this threat is that it is difficult to measure because
of its very nature; although the aggregate of land use changes may
degrade the river over time, the change from one year to the next
may not appear to be significant in traditional studies or monitoring.
Past Studies: Habitat, Sediments, Water Quality
habitat has been intensively studied as the result of interest on
the part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as well as some study
by state agencies. Connectivity of habitat is threatened by recent
subdivision and development in the watershed; this could be preserved
by protecting large parcels, combined with an aggressive stewardship
program targeted at waterfront landowners.
sampling in York Harbor, although not intensive, has been done in
conjunction with dredging operations, and shows relatively low levels
of contamination. Such contaminated sediments should usually
just be left alone.
quality studies in the York River have concentrated on bacterial
(responsible for clam flat closures) and on dissolved oxygen; the
water quality is generally good, yet high bacteria and low dissolved
oxygen are each responsible for portions of the river not meeting
their water quality classifications.
Gap: Fish Populations and Aquatic Habitat
less is known about freshwater, marine, or anadromous fish habitat
in the York River, and no systematic recording of species has been
made. This represents a significant gap in the knowledge about
the river. Moreover, it is likely that the fish populations
are threatened by a combination of watershed land use changes, culverts
and other barriers to fish passage, and possible changes in water
temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen.
Gap: Water Quality Data Other than Bacteria
quality is generally good, according to the little sampling done.
Bacterial pollution does close clam flats in the upper part of the
river, and seasonally down in the Harbor. Much less is known
about water quality that is critical to aquatic life, including fish:
relevant parameters would include dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature,
more about the fish populations in the river.
Involve the local community through an anglers' survey and possible
Work with scientists to survey fish habitat in both tidal and
Monitor the river during the spawning season for anadromous fish.
Seek funding for a fish population survey.
Determine shoreline conditions, regardless of ownership.
Unprotected land is not necessarily "lost" as either habitat or
Determine suitability for public access.
Indicate areas of invasive vegetation and determine methods of
Participate in habitat analysis along with the Natural Areas Program
and Endangered Species Group, including a volunteer dragonfly
a stewardship program for landowners along the river.
the community in events along or on the river.
Distribute river-care literature to landowners.
Host a series of workshops, when possible outdoors, to look at
backyard habitat, lawn care practices.
Consider promoting the National Wildlife Foundation's Backyard
Habitat program locally.
Hold a river festival, picnic, or concert.
Organize boating or canoeing events, particularly in June (National
Host a series of interpretive nature events during the good weather.
people on the river is one of the best ways to help them understand
the restrictions to tidal flow along the salt marsh.
Support an ongoing water quality monitoring program.
Employ a volunteer-based monitoring method.
Use the monitoring effort to raise awareness within town.
Advocate for one or more restorations of the most restrictive
Consider compiling GIS data for the watershed.
Expand upstream monitoring of parameters other than bacteria:
do include dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and flow.
Begin doing "biomonitoring" of macroinvertebrates; this
yields data for both water quality and fish habitat.
Make sure DEP's "impaired waters" list includes all tributaries
that are not meeting standards.
Collect electronic copies of GIS datalayers from state, federal,
Determine a protocol for updating this database.
Digitize additional data if desired.
Work with Coastal Mosaic, the Maine Office of GIS, the Town of
York, and/or the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission on
this project, rather than becoming GIS experts.
to York River Facts.
to the Index.