Natural Resources Inventory and Monitoring

Ecologist Janet McMahon, taking a water sample for the Natural Resources Inventory and Monitoring Program.

The 92-mile system of lakes and river segments that comprise the Allagash Wilderness Waterway winds south to north in northwestern Maine through a vast, privately owned working forest. The ecological integrity of the Waterway, as well as the experience of visiting it, depends largely on the quality of its waters and adjacent forested land and the habitats they provide for the flora and fauna native to it. The Allagash River watershed is especially important at a continental scale as one of the most important watersheds east of the Mississippi harboring wild, native Brook Trout. The Brook Trout is essentially a bellwether species in monitoring the impacts of climate change. Lakes in the watershed also support native Lake Trout and half of Maine’s remaining Lake Whitefish populations.

The AWW-NRIM Project involves a comprehensive inventory of the Waterway including the physical environment (topography, hydrology, bedrock, soils), biodiversity (terrestrial and aquatic species and ecosystems), ecological integrity within the context of the Pre-1841 Allagash Watershed as a whole, and current and future resilience of the Waterway in the face of a climate and land use changes. The initial phases of the project are currently underway. These include inventory, assessment, and documentation of the natural values and resources of the Waterway’s restricted zone; and where appropriate, close collaboration with the private landowners (with their permission, on a case-by-case basis) in the Waterway’s one-mile zone and in the pre-1841 Allagash watershed as a whole.

Future phases will include a summary report in 2023 available to the public, an interpretive natural resources pocket guide similar to Allagash Explorer, and a protocol for an ongoing monitoring program with an emphasis on the impacts of climate change that might serve as a test model for Maine’s northern forest.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation has received financial support for the Allagash Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Project from the Davis Conservation Foundation, the John Sage Foundation, and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, as well as our many individual donors. It is being conducted in partnership with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and with the assistance of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Natural Areas Program, and the USGS.

OUR MISSION IS to enhance the wilderness character of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, protect its environment, and preserve and foster knowledge and understanding of its natural, historic and cultural values. In close collaboration with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, we serve as the Friends of the Allagash.

- Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation