The Story of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway
by Dean Bennett
Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a treasure, conserved by Maine people working together. Hear — and see! — the story in three minutes from Allagash expert Dean Bennett. Dean is an award-winning author, longtime University of Maine professor, and an Allagash Member of the Natural Resources Council of Maine:
Allagash Wilderness Waterway
The Natural Resources Council of Maine has watchdogged activities in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) since its creation to ensure its wilderness character is not degraded. Protection of the Allagash River was the issue on which NRCM was founded in 1959.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is one of Maine's signature natural areas. Following a multi-year campaign led by NRCM, it was created in 1966 by the Maine State Legislature, with a $1.5 million bond issue approved by a large majority of Maine voters, and $1.5 million from the federal government.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway Named Wild and Scenic River
As a result of hard work by Senator Edmund Muskie, on July 17, 1970, the Allagash River was designated a "wild" river area in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This meant that it would be kept generally inaccessible except by trail.
Today, the character of the Waterway continues to be threatened by roads, parking lots, boat launches, and uses that mar the pristine nature of this area's views and peace and quiet.
Allagash Management Plan
In 2011 and 2012, NRCM participated in an advisory group to revise the Allagash Wilderness Waterway’s Management Plan. Our goal in the process was to ensure no further degradation of wilderness character. We also wanted to improve that character wherever there were opportunities. NRCM continues to work hard to fight threats to the area and ensure that the Allagash Wilderness Waterway is managed as a true wilderness area, as the people of Maine intended.
Are You Planning a Trip to the Allagash?
Visit the State of Maine website to find out current conditions and other important information before you head out to experience the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
Looking for tips and information as you plan your trip to the Allagash? Visit Backpacker for their "Big Trips Made Easy" piece about the Allagash. Happy paddling!
Banner photo: Allagash River by NRCM member and former executive director Brownie Carson