The Machias River ranks with the St. John, the Allagash, and the Penobscot as one of Maine’s most scenic and outstanding paddling rivers. Over the course of 76 miles, canoeists enjoy an array of water courses–from lakes and swamps to rapids and a waterfall. The river is rich in brook trout, bass, and pickerel, and each spring Atlantic salmon return to its spawning and rearing grounds. Salmon populations in the Machias have declined steadily for the past 15 years, though, and conservation partners sought a way to give this historically productive habitat the best possible hope of recovery.
Through years of planning and negotiating, International Paper Company, the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, the Department of Conservation, and The Nature Conservancy have achieved a common vision for landscape-scale protection along this exceptional river. The Land for Maine’s Future program made a significant contribution toward this multimillion-dollar project, which is being funded largely through private contributions and federal grants. Maine’s Congressional delegation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have played essential roles in fundraising.
In the project’s first phase, the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission (through a conservation easement) and the Department of Conservation (through fee acquisition) protected a 1,000-foot corridor along 121 miles of the Machias and several key tributaries, as well as two headwater lakes. The conserved corridor helps to preserve the river’s recreational values, salmon habitat and 11 rare plants, animals and natural communities while ensuring that the surrounding working forest remains productive.
When the project is complete, conservation easements will secure public access and shoreline habitat on 18,443 acres, with an additional 6,400 acres purchased outright–protecting the river’s major tributaries and 25 related lakes and ponds. The project will protect 86 percent of the river system’s spawning and nursery habitat for Atlantic salmon. In the meantime, the Machias and East Machias River Watershed Councils are working with the state to improve recreational access and stabilize eroded shorelines.
Downeast Maine – Hancock & Washington
Directions from nearest town
From Beddington, head east on Route 9 approximately 11 miles, turning left just as Route 9 makes a 90-degree right turn. After about 8 miles driving alongside the river, you will reach the Stud Mill Road. Turn right (crossing the river) and immediately left, continuing north 1.5 miles to the access site on Second Machias Lake.