River | Cape Neddick River | Brave
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& Ogunquit Rivers
The York River
is the York River watershed?
from York Pond flows through a small stream, creating the headwaters
of the York River, saltwater and unimpeded tidal for over seven
miles, it is contained for the most part within the town of York.
These rich tidalmarshes comprise some of the largest areas of coastal
wetland in Southern Maine and are held wholly in private ownership.
The largest of the salt marshes are found 5 to 7 miles from the
coastal harbor mouth. The York River has high ocean-like salinity
seaward and fluctuating salinities in the upper section influenced
by the watershed run off.
the site for some of Maine’s earliest permanent settlements,
this area has supported a wide variety of agricultural, forestry,
fishing and hunting activities over the past 350 years.
York River and its watershed are contained within four southern
Maine towns: York, Kittery, South Berwick and Eliot. The York River
landscape of rolling hills, old fields, broad marshes, accompanied
by open and closed views of its topography, presents an unusual
diversity of spaces and makes the images that characterize the landscape
through which it runs.
York River Watershed drains 21,179 acres or 33 square miles. It
is listed as a Priority Coastal Watershed by the Maine Department
of Environmental Protection. The watershed’s elevation rises
from sea level to 660 feet. There are 109 miles of streams and rivers
in the watershed or 218 miles of river and stream shoreland.
The York River begins at the northwest corner of York Pond and quickly
flows into the Upper Bartlett Mill Pond in Eliot. It then travels
south to southeast through woodlands before entering the Town of
York. Here it is met by Cutts Ridge Brook from the south just before
passing under Birch Hill Road and coming under tidal influence.
The River continues its travels, twisting and turning, in an easterly
direction where it converges with Rogers Brook and Smelt Brook.
As the River begins to widen, it turns in a more southerly direction
where it is crossed by Scotland Bridge Road. At this point, Bass
Cove Creek (which leads in from Boulter Pond) and Cider Hill Creek,
both from the north, connect to the River. Across from the outlet
of Cider Hill Creek, Dolly Gordon Brook and Libby Brook converge
and empty into the River from the South. The York River then passes
under the Turnpike and Route 1. It curves around Ramshead Point,
continuing in a southeasterly direction, where it is crossed by
Sewell’s Bridge and Route 103. The River passes Bragdon and
Harris Islands, turns sharply around Stage Neck and empties into
the Gulf of Maine.
The York River is an estuary where fresh- and saltwater
mix with the tides. The protected coves and marshes act as a “nursery”
for young marine fishes, crustaceans, and shorebirds. Salt marsh
grasses require regular inundation by salt water. Looking across
the marsh, you can see that different species of grasses grow where
the terrain is slightly higher or lower.
you may see include great blue herons, night herons, white egrets,
tiny sandpipers, many kinds of ducks, and the ever-busy kingfisher.
Many birds nest along the marsh edge. Bald eagles and ospreys dive
for fish. If
you’re lucky, you may see a river otter, muskrat, deer, or
fox. More likely you’ll see tracks in soft mud or an otter
slide on the riverbank. In the fall and winter, look for harbor
York River is home to several species of fish that live in the ocean,
but return to freshwater to spawn. These include alewives, blueback
herring, sea-run trout, and smelt.