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 AWW-Natural Resources Inventory, Ecological Assessment, and Long-Term Monitoring (NRIM) initiative 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.
In conjunction with year two of the inventory phase of the NRIM project is the Coldwater Fishery Habitat Temperature Monitoring (CWFHTM). Initial research for NRIM documented concerningly high-water temperatures and low flows in AWW tributaries during recent summers. This heightened the need for information on these waters which are essential to sustaining populations of native, wild brook trout in the lakes and the river that comprise the Waterway.
CWFHTM will determine baseline thermal conditions in AWW tributaries prioritizing these tributaries according to their current contribution to sustaining brook trout populations, their vulnerability to temperature increases, and their potential to maintain conditions that will allow brook trout in the AWW to adapt to temperature increases resulting from climate change. It will establish protocols for an ongoing monitoring program in the most important tributaries to inform future management that will conserve the AWW’s brook trout populations, and by extension, populations in northern Maine watersheds.
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, the Horizon 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