The Trout Unlimited mission is to conserve,
protect and restore North America's cold water fisheries and their
watersheds. SebagoTU has been treating this as its top priority. In
addition to improving the local fisheries environment, our conservation
projects involve the members directly with the work of the chapter
making us a stronger organization.
We are currently striving to complete at least one habitat reconnection (culvert/dam) project every year, and reclaim two more ponds in southwestern Maine in partnership with MDIFW between now and 2020.
In 2014, the chapter was presented the Gold Trout Award by the national organization. This award is given to the chapter with the greatest success in conservation projects that protect and restore habitat in their area. Select from the menu to select a project or scroll down to read about our projects.
In addition to the hours contributed by SebagoTU volunteers, the chapter also contributes money to important conservation projects undertaken by other conservation organizations. Funds in excess of our annual overhead needs are invested into a wide range of worthwhile environmental programs and education on a local basis. 2017 was our most active year ever with the chapter contributing $16.1K directly to habitat restoration projects.
Connectivity has been restored to the Shepards River all the way to New Hampshire. A deteriorating, smooth culvert that would not pass fish was replaced by an open-bottom arch that accommodates the natural stream bed. Sebago TU worked with the Town of Brownfield to write the grants that obtained the money needed to replace the culvert correctly: $95K from the Maine Water Bond Program and $100K from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The chapter additionally contributed $10K to the project.
Located in the foothills of the White Mountains, the Shepards River Watershed is home to a well-documented population of wild/native brook trout. Reconnecting the habitat will provide for a more robust, genetically diverse trout population that can better withstand the results of climate change. The project complements two others in the watershed: the weirs project the chapter completed last year that reconnected a feeder brook downstream form the project and the nearby Linscott Brook Project that replaced undersized culverts with an open-bottom arch. The chapter plans to work with the Town of Porter just south of Brownfield to complete two more projects there next year that will reconnect additional habitat in the Shepards River and Tenmile River watersheds.
Brandy Brook is a quality feeder to Collyer Brook, that has some of the best small water trout fishing local to Portland and the best trout habitat in the Royal River Watershed. These waters had been isolated by one of the worst hanging culverts that our survey teams had ever documented. Sebago chapter worked with MDIFW Region A to prioritize the site, and put together the partnership and provided overall coordination for the effort that resulted in replacement of the culvert with a fish-friendly pipe-arch.
Will Johnston, Town Planner for New Gloucester, lead the effort for the town and submitted the Maine Water Bond grant application, Alex Abbott of USFWS did the initial survey and preliminary technical design and provided follow-support, major financial support was provided by The Nature Conservancy with financial support from Sebago Chapter and the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Last minute donations from some generous chapter members were key to this project actually happening. The chapter contributed $6,100 in all to the project.
The press release that the CBEP posted was picked up by the Lewiston Sun-Journal. See http://www.sunjournal.com/news/connections/2017/09/14/improved-fish-passage-insures-brook-trout-return-brandy-brook/2194717
In 2016, the headwaters of Linscott Brook were reconnected to the brook in the Shepards River Watershed. Undersized twin culverts that were prone ice jams and flooding were replaced with an open bottom arch. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service did the initial survey and design work. Sebago TU obtained the funding needed through the Maine Water Bond Program. The Town of Brownfield executed the project.
The Shepards River Watershed is prime wild/native brook trout habitat located west of Sebago Lake in the foothills of the White Mountains.
On July 15, 2016 a series of three rock weirs were installed that reconnected a feeder brook to the main stem of the Shepards River on Hampshire Road in Brownfield, Maine. Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited executed the project under TU’s national Embrace-a-Stream grant program. The Maine Community Foundation provided major funding. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Sebago Lake Region provided technical support. Caribou Springs LLC of Gilead, Maine was the prime contractor.
The project was linked to a prototype youth education effort with Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham, Maine. The week before, after a morning of fly casting instruction and fishing practice in Trout Pond, campers and staff were taken on a field trip and shown the Hiram Falls Dam, this site and two others nearby and explained the problems they created for the fish and how they were being addressed. Click here for more information.
The dam on Goff Mill Brook in Arundel was removed on September 18th, 2015 reconnecting seven miles of habitat to the Kennebunk estuary. Searun brook trout are now a possibility there. The project was executed by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, working in full partnership with the Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited under TUís national Embrace-a-Stream grant program. Additional funding was provided by The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. Caribou Springs LLC of Gilead, Maine was the prime contractor.
Abutters were concerned that the removal would adversely affect the wildlife. The pool below the Andrews's property was lowered about three feet, but only lost 10 to 15% of its watered area. Here is a picture of the pool taken in November.
Wells Reserve started follow-on survey work in April, and Sebago TU volunteers were with them. This is a photo of the first sea run brook trout documented entering Goff Mill Brook - and all indications are that it is a wild fish.
Round Pond was successfully treated on September 16 and 17th, 2015. Funding from the chapter's 5in5 Program and help from our volunteers were key to this accomplishment. The pond will be restocked with native brook trout next year.
This was the fifth pond reclaimed in the last five years. Thanks to State Fisheries Biologists Francis Brautigam, Jim Pellerin and Brian Lewis for making this happen on time and under budget.
As a thank you to our donors and volunteers, we have prepared a booklet, the Insiders' Guide to the 5in5 Ponds with driving directions, depth maps, fly fishing tips and more. It will be distributed during the 2016 meeting cycle. Donors to our new Conservation Fund may also receive copies.
November of 2014 saw our most ambitious survey effort ever. Sebago and Mollyockett Chapter volunteers worked with MDIFW staff to survey landlocked salmon redds in the Crooked River. The river was surveyed from its headwaters at Songo Pond down to the confluence with the Songo River, which totals approximately 60 river miles! The upper watershed was covered by pairs of volunteers wading, the lower reaches by volunteers teamed with MDIFW biologists in canoes.
Nearly all the wild landlocked salmon in Sebago Lake spawn in the Crooked River. The survey identified redds, test pits, and major holding pools. From this data MDIFW biologist can estimate the approximate number of spawning salmon in the river. Over 2100 redds were located in the main stem of the river far exceeding what the biologists expected.
This data is part of the The Crooked River: Characteristics, History, and Fisheries Management Report that indicates that natural reproduction is sufficient to cease stocking Sebago Lake, and return this to a wild fishery.
In November of 2015, Joe Croteau recruited ten Sebago TU volunteers who conducted a redd survey of Crooked River tributary waters Mile Brook and Smith Brook - and found more redds.
5in5 Project continues to work with Maine Department of Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife Region A to restore quality native brook trout
fishing to ponds in southwestern Maine that have been overrun with
invasive species. August and September saw the reclamation of ponds
three and four: Crocker Pond and Broken Bridge Ponds in the White
Mountain National Forest in Albany, Maine. Program funds were used to
purchase the rotenone, signage, dam gate security device and lunch for
on site workers. Chapter volunteers provided manual labor to help set
up the equipment needed to draw down the ponds prior to the reclamation.
Joe Croteau organized volunteers for this year’s work who included Stan Jennings, Bob Chapin, Eben Marsh, Gene McKenna, Dave Bowie, Steve Heinz and Bob Harradon, who provided excellent on-site lunches on both draw down and treatment days. The pond will be restocked with native brook trout in 2015. These are the third and fourth reclamations made possible by 5-in-5 funds.
During the first weeks of September, 2013,
the chapter helped MDIFW reclaim Abbotts Ponds in Sumner. The
pond had become overrun with hornpout, smelt and golden shiners
causing the brook trout to run thin and grow slowly. 5-in-5 Project
funds were used to buy the rotenone required, signage at the pond, a
gate to restrict access, and lunch food supplies for those working at
The pond was restocked with native brook trout in 2014. This was the second pond reclamation made possible by 5-in-5 funds.
The Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District conducted a fish passage impediment survey of the Little Androscoggin Watershed during the summer of 2013. The work continued on other tributaries in the watershed in 2014. Some of the best nearby stocked trout fisheries are in the watershed, and volunteers again saw some nice water being marginalized by poor culverts that keep fish from moving to where they need to be. There is more work to be done - and the work will continue in 2015.
Why do we survey culverts?
The George's River Chapter (midcoast area) has posted a video on their website that is world class http://www.georgesriver.org/science-spot/culvert-story. Take the time to watch it - it really is on point and well done.
The Presumpscot River Watch measures dissolved oxygen
and takes water samples at twenty-five sites on eight dates each
summer. With the opening of the fish ladder at Cumberland Mills Dam and
the announcement of the pending removal of Saccarappa Dam, the
Presumpscot is where the action is.
On July 26, 2013 - Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited combined with the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership to remove Randall Mill Dam on Chandler Brook, a Royal River tributary located in Pownal, Maine. The project was a Trout Unlimited Embrace-a-Stream project. Maine TU Council provided additional funding support. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided surveying support for the project, Maine Rivers assisted with project coordination. The prime contractor was Caribou Springs LLC of Gilead, Maine.
The project reconnected three miles of stream habitat to Chandler Brook and the main stem of the Royal River. We hope that this helps the people of Yarmouth to realize that it's time for their head-of-tide dams to go.
On July 19, 2013 - Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited in partnership with Mollyockett Chapter and the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership removed a dam on Swett Brook, a tributary of the Crooked River located in Waterford, Maine. The project was a Trout Unlimited Embrace-a- Stream project. The prime contractor was Caribou Springs LLC of Gilead, Maine. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program provided key surveying and permitting components of the project.
The dam was the property of the Portland Pipeline
Corporation. The project was conducted with the full support of the
company in furtherance of its longstanding commitment to environmental
Removal of the Swett Brook Dam maximizes
the effects of our 2011 Swett Brook Bridge EAS
project downstream. Currently, stocked fish make up about 50% of the
lake’s salmon in any given year. The Maine Department of Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are working to enhance wild salmon
production in theCrooked River drainage. Removal of salmon migration
barriers will help them achieve this goal.
The chapter has been invited by MDMR to furnish volunteers to help with Atlantic salmon egg planting in waters in the Farmington area again this year. Contact Steve Heinz to carpool and for more information.
We get more that we give when we help the hatchery folks strip and fertilize the eggs in November that will grow into the next year's stocked landlocked salmon. Folks tend to get almost giddy in the presence of the big fish. It's great incentive to be a SebagoTU volunteer.
2012 was the final year of this major brook trout tagging and tracking study on New Hampshire's Swift Diamond and Dead Diamond Rivers. Sebago Chapter has been leading the effort with strong support from the New Hampshire Council and several NH Chapters, working under the leadership of biologist Dianne Timmins of New Hampshire Fish and Game. Chapter organizers Bob Piampiano and Dave Bowie have worked with volunteers Joel Anderson, Stan Jennings, Patrick O’Shea, and John Files. Sebago has also started an annual fly fishing weekend for Dartmouth Outing Club members to learn the basics as they help catch some fish to be tagged.
The study is learning about the genetics and migratory patterns of wild brook trout in Diamond section of the Rapid - Magalloway drainage, arguably the most significant wild brook trout river population in the country. The critical information garnered from this multi-year study has reinforced the need to manage these interconnected watersheds in unison. Diamond River trout have no concept of state boundaries and tagging data has shown they freely move in and out of the Diamonds and Magalloway for food, thermal refuge, and spawning.
2012 focused on the movements of the
smaller trout, and some 25 brook trout 9 to 15 inches were tagged and
have been tracked all season. An earlier MDIFW study had covered the
portion of the watershed within Maine's boundaries. This project was
funded by donations from members of Sebago and New Hampshire TU
chapters, Dartmouth College and a number of its alumni, plus Rangeley
Region Guides and Sportsman Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. This is the only currently active multi-state, multi-chapter
TU project. Biologists added a creel survey to this year's workload,
and that data along with the genetics and tracking data will be
compiled and studied this winter - and probably many winters to come!
Thanks again to all our donors and volunteers!
Region A Fisheries Biologist Francis Brautigam pronounces the Fall 2011 reclamation effort of Little Concord Pond north of West Paris a complete success. Unwanted and invasive species were successfully eliminated and the pond was restocked with a native brook trout strain in Spring 2012 by air drop. Fingerlings were added in the Fall and will be hereafter as part of the MDIFW’s normal restocking cycle. Francis says that these efforts should really pay off in a couple of years with some really nice brook trout.
This reclamation effort would not have happened without Sebago TU’s pond reclamation program.
Stan Jennings, David Kirstein, Mark Norton, Hank Yancey and Steve Heinz provided 11 days of support for this effort in July and September of 2012. The work was similar to the fish passage impediment work done with the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership over the summers of 2009 and 2010. Waters included Branch Brook, Merriland River and Kennebunk River. Volunteers were impressed by the cold water habitat they observed, especially Branch Brook and the Merriland River.
In 2012, David Kirstein and Jack Zinke helped interns survey the Little River, an Androscoggin River tributary with brook trout habitat. This effort was similar to the Wells Reserve project.
Sebago TU responded to a Cumberland and Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ request to conduct a riparian survey of the Crooked River. Sebago TU planned and accomplished the survey - done mainly by canoe and kayak due to access issues. TU volunteers included Brooke Hidell, David Sokasits, Ron Dyer, David Kirstein, Steve Heinz, Bob Duplessie, Jeff Kalinich, Joe Loughran, Gail Miller, Bob Chapin, Bob Harradon, Pat O'Shea, Stan Jennings, Matt Streeter, Beth Streeter, Mike McCue, Dick Walthers, and Mark Norton.
Our work was featured in a Green Outdoors
segment on WCSH television - see: http://archive.wcsh6.com/life/programming/local/bill_greens_maine/article/163947/144/Sportsmens-groups-volunteer-to-protect-Crooked-River.
Sebago TU volunteers participated in the
fish passage impediment survey of all water flowing into Casco Bay in
2009 and 2010 conducted by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Sebago TU
worked with Mollyockett Chapter and obtained a TU Embrace-a-Stream
grant from the national organization last winter to improve a problem
site in Waterford that was identified. Work to correct this was
completed in September of 2011.
Sebago TU teamed with the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) during the summers of 2009 and 2010 on their survey of impediments to fish passage for all waters flowing into Casco Bay. For more information Click Here.
Although the primary impetus for the project was Casco Bay and anadromous species passage, how fish can pass between different parts of the drainages affects fresh water species -- including trout -- as well. Badly designed culverts may prevent native and stocked trout from moving throughout the watershed as their needs change, such as pursuing cooler waters or spawning habitat. The data gathered will be used by both CBEP and IF&W, and pointed out where improvements could be made that would improve trout habitat in the Crooked, Presumpscot and Royal River watersheds.
Work will continue in 2010 and focus on the Crooked River drainage, Given its importance as the spawning grounds for Sebago Lake landlocked salmon, the chapter looks forward to continued involvement. IF&W will have similar work going on in the Saco River watershed during the summers of 2010 through 2012 that will provide additional volunteer opportunities.
On October 27, 2009, Sebago TU volunteers helped IF&W staff mark land locked salmon slated for stocking this spring from the hatchery in Casco. If you catch a small fin-clipped salmon in southern or central Maine over the next couple of years, Sebago TU likely played a small part in the process that got the fish there. The chapter continued to support these evolutions in 2010 and 2011.