Photo by Ryan Foley
Paddling the Lamprey River is an activity enjoyed by many. The Annual Lamprey River Canoe Race starts at Mary Blair Park and ends at the Route 87 bridge. Canoeists and kayakers who try to paddle past that end point will encounter several serious obstacles as they continue to Wadleigh Falls in Lee. Over the years, many trees have fallen into the river. Sometimes paddlers can sneak around or under, but more often, they need to take the boat out of the water, carry it up steep slopes often covered by poison ivy, get past the blockage, carry the boat back down steep slopes, and try to continue on until the next blockage. Paddlers often ask, “What, if anything, can be done with this section?”
With that question in mind, the Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee and the Lamprey River Watershed Association set out by canoe and kayak in 2014 and 2015 to evaluate and document the problems and consider some possible solutions. They found six sites that are impassable under any circumstance. They encountered other obstacles that might be passable under some circumstances, but would still require a degree of skill and physical strength. A few obstacles could be made passable to recreational paddlers if a few branches were trimmed.
Woody material in streams cannot just be removed because someone might wish it to be so. Woody material is a natural and important component of healthy streams. It provides habitat to fish and other aquatic animals, it helps to slow flow, it adds shade to help keep the water cool, and many laws are in place to support those functions. Removing large woody material requires heavy equipment and permits. On the other hand, woody material can sometimes pose a safety hazard to people or infrastructure, such as bridges.
After documenting each blockage and evaluating safety threats if nothing were to be done and estimating ecological impacts if material were to be relocated, the group offered the following recommendations:
When the river beckons, go out and enjoy. Just recognize that the some parts of the Wild and Scenic Lamprey are scenic and others are wild.
To view the entire report, please click here.