AMC’s Research Department has released the Ecological Atlas of the Upper Androscoggin River Watershed 2nd Edition. The new Atlas, authored by Senior Staff Scientist David Publicover and retired Research Director Kenneth Kimball with maps produced by Assistant Staff Scientist Cathy Poppenwimer, updates and expands upon the original award-winning Atlas released in 2003. The 100-page full-color Atlas covers the watershed upstream of Jay, Maine – an area of over 1.5 million acres straddling the northern Maine/New Hampshire border (twice the size of Rhode Island). This is a diverse landscape of mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and wetlands stretching from the summit of Mount Washington and the historic mill cities of Berlin, NH and Rumford, ME to the undeveloped rivers (the Magalloway, Cupsuptic, and Kennebago) draining south from the Canadian border.
The Androscoggin region has long been an area of high interest to AMC and its members for both conservation action and recreational activities. It includes some of the most iconic natural areas in northern New England – the east side of the Presidential Range, the Great Gulf, the Wild River valley, the Mahoosucs, Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, and the Rangeley Lakes. In addition to the diverse natural landscape, it is also a region rich in human history. It includes the site of one of the largest Native American villages at Canton Point, ME and was the birthplace of the American paper industry in the 1880s. It has also been a major tourist destination since the mid-1800s, and concern over pollution in the river was a major driver in the passage of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972.
The 2nd Edition retains and updates much of the material from the first edition on the physical and natural features of the landscape – its climate, geology, soils, forests, land use, lakes and rivers, wetlands, wildlife, and history. There are new or expanded discussions on hydrology and water quality, subalpine and alpine ecosystems, land conservation and ownership changes and recreation. In addition, new sections have been added on emerging topics. As explained by Dr. Kimball, “Climate change is now the lens through which we have to look at all natural ecosystems, so there is a lot more attention paid to that subject in this edition. And things like renewable energy development and forest carbon sequestration weren’t on the radar screen fifteen years ago but are increasingly part of the region’s future so we have added chapters on those subjects.”
Dr. Publicover added, “Geographically the upper Androscoggin watershed is the keystone of the Northern Forest region, and the watershed is representative of the changes that have taken place and the challenges facing the region in the future. The increase in land conservation, the recovery of rivers and wildlife, the decline of the paper industry, the changes in land ownership and forest management, and the emergence of new uses for and values of natural lands – from recreation to forest carbon – are not unique to the watershed. We created the Atlas as an educational resource to help people understand this wonderful landscape, and to inform discussions about sustaining the ecological, economic and cultural values of the region into the future.”
The Atlas will be distributed free of charge to schools, libraries, organizations and other stakeholders throughout the region. A digital version is available at www.outdoors.org/conservation/climate-energy/publications (scroll down to Forest Ecology and Management section). A limited number of hard copies are available; to obtain one send a check for $15 to David Publicover, AMC Research Department, PO Box 298, Gorham, NH 03581.