The Dennys River is rich in superlatives. Among all the Downeast salmon rivers that are rated as “outstanding” for their water quality and wildlife values, the Dennys has the richest wildlife, the most diverse riverine and riparian plant communities, and the longest stretch of river without road crossings or camps.
Thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy, the landowner (International Paper), the Land for Maine’s Future program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and many other valued partners, the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission acquired several tracts totaling 4,707 acres. These lands along the 18-mile course of the Dennys River from Meddybemps Lake to the historic dam in Dennysville, support the state’s highest concentration of nesting Bald Eagles, a rare species of freshwater mussel, and a wide variety of waterfowl that rely on the river for breeding and wintering grounds and migratory stopovers.
One of the last eight runs of wild Atlantic salmon in the country, the Dennys River historically has produced nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. Atlantic salmon seaboard run. Yet the Dennys River spawning and nursery grounds represent just two percent of the entire river system, making them particularly vulnerable to disruption. Protecting this vital habitat will aid State efforts to restore a thriving salmon population to the Dennys. Conservation along the river also benefits the other fish that frequent its waters: alewives, rainbow trout, smelt, shad, sea-run brook trout, striped bass and American eel.
The protected riverfront acreage allows for continued recreational use by the public and sustainable forest management practices that will not damage sensitive ecosystems in the river’s watershed.
In 2020, the protected area along the Dennys River corridor was expanded when an abandoned dam in the river that was impeding fish passage into Meddybemps Lake was removed.
The Downeast Salmon Federation began in Winter 2020 by removing the remains of the old hydroelectric station on the river to remove blockage and allow the salmon to freely flow into Meddybemps Lake. With its partnership with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Federation removed the entire hydroelectric powerhouse, a structure that was active in the 1940s-1960s but then abandoned. This dam was a barrier that kept fish from accessing habitat in the river. Completion of this project will hopefully increase populations of river herrings and bolster the river’s overall productivity. It also supports the economy and longevity of Maine’s sustainable heritage fishery, as alewives make great bait for lobsters and are an essential to the Gulf of Maine groundfishery.
East Machias and Meddybemps
Bird Watching, Wildlife Watching, Hiking, Snowshoeing and Cross-country Skiing, Dog Walking (on leash), Horseback Riding, Backcountry Camping, Hunting, Fishing, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Swimming, Canoeing, and Kayaking
Downeast — Hancock & Washington Counties
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 26, A-4/5; Map 27, A-1; Map 36, D-4 and E- 4/5. To Curry Landing: From East Machias, take Route 191 north to Route 86. Take right onto 86 and go 5.5 miles. Go left onto Eastern Ridge Road. At first major 4-way intersection, take right onto the 91-30-0 road (may not be labeled). Go to end (intersection). Go straight across onto extremely overgrown road. Follow road to water.
Directions to Meddybemps Lake, mouth of the Dennys River
From Route 1 South: Turn right on Ayers Junction Road/ME- 214 just outside Pembroke. Head Northwest on ME-214 toward Dairy Lane for almost 9 miles. At the junction of Route 191 N and Main Street, bear left at the fork to turn onto ME-191 South/Main St toward Hayward Road. Travel just under a mile. Parking is limited at the site because it is located in a residential area.