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About

The Kennebec River rises from Moosehead Lake before flowing 170 miles to the Atlantic Ocean at Popham Beach.  Rivers for Change ambassadors Chris Morgan, a local Stand Up Paddle athlete, Jessica Sterling, and Stuart Hickey are working with Rivers for Change to paddle 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

Chris learned to whitewater paddleboard on Maine rivers back in 2016. Since then, he has paddled Class 1-5 rivers all over the US and Europe. He will tell you he has a lot of favorite river sections for many different reasons, but the one river he loves more than the rest is the Kennebec and it's tributaries.
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Jessica Sterling

Ambassador

Jessica is a team paddler for Pyranha Kayaks, Level Six and Outdoor New England. She steep creek races and playboats. She has kayaked a number of rivers across the Americas including self supports on the Grand Canyon and is one of the Organizers for Maine Whitewater Championships.
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Stuart Hickey

Ambassador

Stuart developed his passion for paddling on rivers through out the Southeastern U.S. after learning to guide rafts on the Ocoee River in TN in 2011. He moved to Western Maine in 2013 when the Kennebec became his first New England whitewater experience. Although Stuart spends most of his time in the Upper Androscoggin Watershed, he is excited to explore the Kennebec River in its entirety.

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. See below for specific events!

Follow along LIVE  to track the team’s progress and follow their activities on the Garmin Connect App.

Upcoming Events

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Up to Date Info

Kennebec Facebook Group

July 6-12

Join Rivers for Change ambassadors and partners including Main Streets for multiple events along the Kennebec river from source to sea to connect with the ecosystem, your local community, and enjoy the recreational opportunities the river provides!
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July 9th at 1pm

Skowhegan Paddle Event

Community Paddle

Join Skowhegan Outdoors and Rivers For Change ambassadors for a scenic paddle down the tranquil Kennebec! We be joining Rivers For Change's Source to Sea trip, meeting at Oosoola Park in Norridgewock at 1 p.m. and paddle 5 miles down the Kennebec to Skowhegan, taking out above the dam and running the Skowhegan Gorge for those interested. We will be paddling with Chris Morgan and other ambassadors from the Rivers For Change source to sea trip. There will be an after-party at the Skowhegan Outdoors Basecamp, with beverages and burgers!
Please register here: https://www.giveffect.com/.../33225-7-9-source-to-sea...
And use this form to request any gear/boats you would like to borrow: https://www.giveffect.com/campaigns/30418-gear-lending-form
Oosoola Park Pin: https://maps.app.goo.gl/hGenUeRXLcW9W46cA
Learn more about the Source to Sea trip here:https://riversforchange.org/2024-kennebec-source-to-sea/

Participants are joining at their own risk as common adventurers. Hosts are not to be held liable. A registered Maine Guide will be a participant

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July 10th, 12 pm

Fort to Fort (Fort Halifax)

Community Paddle

Let's bring back the Fort to Fort Paddle!
Noon-1:00 - Meet at Fort Halifax and unload kayaks and gear.
1:00-2:30 - Shuttle vehicles to Augusta (leave boats at Ft. Halifax - we'll have people there to keep an eye on the kayaks)
2:30 - 3:00 - press, meet and greet, prep for trip
3:00 - 6:00 - Fort to Fort Paddle
Participants are joining at their own risk as common adventurers. Hosts are not to be held liable. A registered Maine Guide will be a participant.
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Support Rivers for Change

Move with Purpose

Adventure Fundraising

The Kennebec StS Team is Moving with Purpose! Connecting people to the Kennebec, educating folks around the river's issues, AND raising funds to support Rivers for Change! Will you show your support and donate so that RFC can continue to expand our educational and conservation programming? All funds go directly to RFC and are tax-deductible. https://givebutter.com/RFCadventurefundraising/kennebec-ambassadors
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July 13th 8 am-3 pm

NRCM Community Paddle

Community Paddle Sidney to Augusta

Join NRCM staff for an 8-mile paddle on the Kennebec River from Sidney to Augusta. There will be a Registered Maine Guide, Richard Behr, accompanying us on this paddling trip, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Edwards Dam removal. On this trip you will learn more about the Kennebec River, including its diversity of wildlife and current river restoration opportunities.

Registration is limited to 25, and cost is $20 per person. This trip is suitable for beginner paddlers.

Please bring your own canoe or kayak, PFD, sun protection, lunch, snacks, and plenty of water!

Contact Emmie Theberge at emmie@nrcm.org for more information. This trip is weather-dependent.

Learn more and reserve your spot today at https://nrcm.salsalabs.org/kennebecpaddlejuly2024/index.html.

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Post event presentation at Patagonia Freeport

Patagonia Freeport Event

TBD

Join Rivers for Change ambassadors after their Source to Sea paddles for a presentation at Patagonia Freeport. Stay tuned for info for this event later this summer!
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Take Action for the Kennebec River

Reunite the Kennebec

Restoring the Kennebec River above Waterville

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently conducting a critical dam relicensing and license amendment process for the Kennebec dams.

We should seize this opportunity to provide future generations with a vibrant river that will support thriving fisheries, create new recreational opportunities, and promote economic development in riverfront communities.

Sign the petition to FERC: Find a solution that works for the river, the fish, and the people and businesses along the Kennebec.

Previous Events

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Flatwater Warm Up

Connecticut River through MA

Take Action for the Connecticut River

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.

5 hydroelectric facilities on the Connecticut River are up for relicensing, and the public comment period is currently OPEN until May 22nd . We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak up for our rivers and influence licenses that will last for up for 50 years! https://www.ctriver.org/post/hydro-public-comments

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Paddling through Prime Salmon Spawning Habitat

Sandy River - Source to Kennebec Confluence

May 12-18

Follow along with Rivers for Change Ambassadors Joe Klementovich, Clark Tate, and Matt Palmariello as they paddle from the source of the Sandy to the confluence of the Kennebec and shed light on this incredible ecosystem.
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Pre Trip Panel Discussion and Film Screening at Patagonia Freeport

Patagonia Freeport Event

May 2nd 6:30pm EDT

Join Rivers for Change ambassadors, NRCM, and ASF at an event hosted by Patagonia Freeport for an engaging evening of storytelling and activism to Reunite the Kennebec!

Additional Resources

NRCM-Restoring the Kennebec Above Waterville

Maine Rivers-Kennebec Watershed

Atlantic Salmon Federation-Restoring the Kennebec

Trout Unlimited- MaineKennebec

Partners and Sponsors

We are incredibly grateful to the following businesses and organizations for getting involved as partners and sponsors. If you’re interested in helping support this campaign please reach out to danielle (@) riversforchange.org

Patagonia and Patagonia Freeport, Level Six, Pyranha Kayaks, Pinniped Kayak, Walker Knife Co., Good To-Go, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Hala Gear, Rocky Mountain Rafts, UCS Spirit, Skowhegan Outdoors, and to Main Streets-Skowhegan, Gardiner, Mid Maine Chamber and Augusta Downtown.

And to Natural Resources Council of Maine, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Rivers, Trout Unlimited for all the work they do to protect and restore the river!

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