Merrymeeting Bay Bowdoinham Reviews
Apr 03, 2007
I hadn’t been back to Maine since we moved away in the summer of 2001, and returning was a big mistake. Coming back validated this place really is as beautiful as I recall and I can no longer dismiss my memories as nostalgia.
Was only back over a weekend that I tied into a business trip, but for a very cool reason. Once upon a time I was treasurer for Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB), an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting a unique delta. The board asked me to consider returning as their ‘virtual’ treasurer despite living a couple thousand miles away, so I returned to see if it was possible.
Here is an introduction to Merrymeeting Bay from the FOMB web site:
Merrymeeting Bay is the 9000-acre confluence of six rivers, two of which, the Androscoggin and the Kennebec, are two of Maine's largest. The bay is a unique ecosystem; technically, it is an inland delta, not an estuary, as it is cut off from direct access to the ocean; at low tide the waters of the Bay flow out through The Chops, a narrow gap, into the lower Kennebec. Though the Bay is affected by tides, there is very little salt in its waters. Large areas of the Bay consist of fresh water mud flats and sand bars upon which wild rice and pickerel weed flourish, plants that provide food and cover for waterfowl.
Merrymeeting bay is home to several endangered and protected species of wildlife; shortnosed and Atlantic sturgeon, bald eagles, ospreys; and many species of anadromous fish, such as shad, smelt, striped bass, river herring, and salmon. The Bay and its tributaries are favored breeding grounds for Canada geese, herons, and other wading birds, and for many species of ducks.
Merrymeeting Bay, by virtue of its unique characteristics and large size, is an ecological gem.
During my time in Maine FOMB contributed to the effort which witnessed the first time the federal government decided that a free-flowing river was more valuable than the electricity generated by a dam, and in 1999 Edwards Dam was taken out, freeing 17 miles of the Kennebec River for the first time in 160 years!
Capping my visit was the chance to fly over the bay for an eagle survey. We visited eleven nests and recorded activity at ten – two had eagles “prone in the nest” which suggests there may be egg incubation occurring. I had to keep the log (since my buddy, Ed, was steering the helicopter, lol) and we sighted thirteen bald eagles in all. At one point Ed asked me how thick I thought the ice was and proceeded to land right on the bay. I’m glad to report that there wasn’t a hint of cracking, though we kept the rotors humming just in case!
Merrymeeting Bay is a natural paradise that you won’t find in any tourist literature, and I confess this review is shameless hype for something very few people get to experience. If you are enticed at all, I encourage you to contact FOMB and try to take advantage of their programs to experience the bay. You have no idea how much I miss endeavors like eagle surveys and long for a summer afternoon out on the water kayaking.
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