Welcome to the website of the York River Study Committee, which includes appointees from Eliot, Kittery, South Berwick, and York.  For more information or questions, contact York River Study Coordinator Jennifer Hunter.  View the Calendar for the latest information on meetings and events.  Sign up for email announcements about the York River Study (on average, about one per month – with updates and news of upcoming meetings and events).

The York River Study Committee invites you to learn more about a possible Partnership Wild and Scenic River Designation for the York River.  See the events list farther down on this page for additional opportunities to learn more.

Overview of the York River Study Committee’s Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation recommendation for the York River and its major tributaries: Designation Recommendation Overview

  • The York River meets criteria for a Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Its clean water and exemplary historic, ecological, economic, and cultural resources meet eligibility criteria. The York River watershed communities’ policies and priorities from comprehensive plans, their existing local ordinances, and their support for river conservation initiatives all demonstrate suitability for a Partnership designation – meaning there is support and capacity for river stewardship.
  • A Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation would provide funding and technical assistance, enhance coordination among the four watershed communities, and engage citizens to continue to preserve what makes the York River special.
  • The locally-developed York River Watershed Stewardship Plan is a guide for future outreach, habitat and river surveys, and river stewardship projects that could be supported with funding.

A Partnership Wild and Scenic River Designation maintains existing local control. Private property rights are not affected.  A Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation:

  • Does not put land under federal control.
  • Does not require public access to private land.
  • Does not change any existing land uses.
  • Does not force any changes in local land-use decision-making processes or objectives.
  • Does not create new federal permits or regulations.
  • Does not prevent access to or use of the river or watershed lands.
  • Does not affect hunting and fishing laws.

There are 116 communities – mostly in the northeastern US – that have pursued Partnership Wild and Scenic River designations to support their local river protection efforts, some with more than 25 years of experience. Learn more about these 13 Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers that involve 116 communities.

Community votes: Town select boards in York and Eliot have placed warrant items on the November 6, 2018 ballot to allow voters to decide whether to endorse a Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation for the York River and its major tributaries, and to accept the accompanying York River Watershed Stewardship Plan. Community support – a majority of ‘YES’ votes on the warrant articles – is needed for the US Congress to consider a Partnership River designation into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This is a final key step in demonstrating suitability for the York River to be designated, by showing communities’ interest in and support for long-term river stewardship.

In Kittery and South Berwick, town councils will be asked to decide on whether to adopt a resolution supporting Partnership Wild and Scenic River designation.

Earlier this year, the 22 towns that were involved with studies on the Nashua River and Wood-Pawcatuck River, at the same time as the York River Wild and Scenic Study, unanimously approved pursuing Partnership Wild and Scenic River designations for their river systems. These 22 New England communities are working with their respective Congressional delegations that have introduced bills for designation (see H.R.6825 – Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Act of 2018).


List of upcoming events:     Press Release Sept 3        Press Release Sept 24

  • Presentation at Eliot Conservation Commission Speaker Series, Wednesday, October 10, 6:00 p.m. at Fogg Library in Eliot
  • Workshop meeting with York Planning Board, Thursday, October 11, 7:00 p.m. at York Public Library
  • York River Study Committee monthly meeting (all meetings are open to the public) – Tuesday, October 23, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Grant House, 200 US Route 1, York. Please attend to ask questions and learn more.
  • Workshop meeting with Kittery Town Council, Wednesday, November 14, 5:30 p.m. at Kittery Town Hall

The York River Watershed Stewardship Plan was approved by the York River Study Committee at its July 24, 2018 meeting. The Stewardship Plan is the culmination of over 30 months of work by the Study Committee to gather input on the York River and  watershed resources valued by community members. The plan is available electronically and it can be viewed at town halls or libraries. Print copies can be requested from Jennifer Hunter.  Stewardship Plan link: http://www.yorkrivermaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/York-River-Watershed-Stewardship-Plan-August-2018.pdf.  We have our own “Story Map” – or online tour – that provides highlights, maps and data from the Stewardship Plan. View it here: https://arcg.is/njfP9 

York River Study in the news:

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Towns that are part of the 33 square mile York River watershed


Dams (or remnants of past dams) in the watershed, including historic dams originally built to harness the river’s power for saw and grist mills


Species of fish found in tidal habitats during a 2001 study of the York River


Miles of streams and rivers in the York River watershed

Approximate acres of salt marsh in the York River estuary, providing valuable habitat for fish, birds, and other species


The year the first dam was built in the watershed


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