The Kennebec River rises from Moosehead Lake before flowing 170 miles to the Atlantic Ocean at Popham Beach.  Chris Morgan, a local Stand Up Paddle athlete, is partnering with Rivers for Change to stand up paddleboard the length of the river from July 5th – July 12th 2024.

The inspiration behind this journey is to commemorate the removal of the Edwards Dam which was breached and removed 25 years prior in July of 1999.   Our goal is to  connect, educate, and engage communities  along the river in a way to encourage more recreational use in its waters while also continuing the efforts to keep it clean.   To do this, we are working with the communities of Skowhegan, Waterville, and Augusta (and surrounding towns) to host an evening by the river which will include local experts in fishing and recreation that will get people in or on the water.  Other objectives include raising awareness for anadromous fish passage and to lay the roots for a paddle trail.  More on these three goals below.

River Recreation

In the 1900s, the Kennebec River became a dumping ground for toxic waste from paper mills and municipal sewage. Log drives from the upstate timber industry choked the river’s flow, and declining oxygen levels from sewage caused major fish kills. By the 1960s no one wanted to fish or swim in the Kennebec anymore. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 which regulated what could be dumped in the river.  The Kennebec also saw its last log drive in 1976.  In 1999 and 2008, the Edwards and Fort Halifax Dams were removed which allowed sediments and pollutants to freely flow to the sea rather than being contained in Augusta.   It also enabled fish to swim all the way up to Waterville to spawn in the river and its tributaries.

Our goal is to grow awareness of how the water quality of the Kennebec has returned to safe levels and that and can be used to recreate in countless ways.

Anadromous Fish Passage

Anadromous Fish means a fish or fish species that spends portions of its life cycle in both fresh and salt waters, entering fresh water from the sea to spawn.  Dams create physical barriers that prevent these fish from returning to their spawning waters while also preventing nutrients to refresh and flow through the watershed.  The Summer of 2023 was the wettest in Maine since 1917.  This brought the water levels on the Kennebec up high enough to flow over the spillways which simulated a natural flow.  The result could be seen in the Cobbosseecontee Stream in Gardiner where the endangered Atlantic Sturgeon were returning to spawn.  Other anadromous fish include in the river include; the Atlantic Salmon, American Shad, Alewives, blueback herring, striped bass, and the American eel.

A Paddle Trail

Of the 5 longest rivers in Maine (St John, Penobscot, Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Saco) the Kennebec is the only river that does not have a paddle trail showing put ins/take outs and campsites.  The irony is that it is the most accessible since it flows by more of Maine’s population than any other river.

Our goal is to map out the put ins/take out, campsites, rapids, hazards and general mileage so that future users can easily plan out trips regardless of watercraft since it can be canoed, kayaked, paddleboarded, tubed, etc.

Source to Sea Paddler

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan

Team Leader

He may be a New Hampshire native but he takes a lot of pride in learning how to paddle whitewater in Maine. His first time paddling whitewater was on the Kennebec up in the Forks in 2016. He swam a lot that day, but the lessons learned on Maine rivers has allowed him to excel on rivers throughout the United States and abroad.

Guest Paddlers

There are numerous opportunities for guest paddlers to participate on key legs of the journey.  We will be working with Main Street Projects and the Recreation Departments from Skowhegan, Waterville, and Augusta to help coordinate local events. From small festivals along side the river to paddle events to engage community members on the river there will be multiple ways to join in. Stay tuned for a more specific events calendar!

Pre/Post Source to Sea Events

, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change
Flatwater Warm Up

Connecticut River through MA

The 68 miles of the Connecticut River that flows through Massachusetts passes by wooded forests, farmland, and city centers offering many scenic vistas. There are two dams that must be portaged, one of which fully diverts the river which dewaters a 2 mile section. Chris will be paddling the Connecticut River as a warm up to get acclimated to flatwater paddling for an extended amount of time.

One of the dams is currently being reviewed for re-licensing. Let FERC know what you think by.....

, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change
Paddling through Prime Salmon Spawning Habitat

Sandy River - Source to Kennebec Confluence

, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change
TBD: Pre/Post Trip Presentations at Patagonia Freeport

Patagonia Freeport Event

Join Rivers for Change ambassadors and NRCM at an event hosted by Patagonia Freeport for an engaging evening of storytelling and activism about this campaign! There will be an event in early May to kick off this campaign and another in August! Stay tuned for dates and information!

Additional Resources

NRCM-Restoring the Kennebec Above Waterville

Maine Rivers-Kennebec Watershed

Atlantic Salmon Federation-Restoring the Kennebec

Trout Unlimited- Maine

Partners and Sponsors

We are incredibly grateful to the following businesses and organizations for getting involved as partners for the important Kennebec River Source To Sea Environmental Awareness Adventure. If you’re interested in helping support this campaign please reach out to danielle (@) riversforchange.org

, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change

, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change, 2024 Kennebec Source to Sea, Rivers For Change

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