Pond & York River
The York Pond
York Pond's 50 acres of open water and 150 acres
of sphagnum wetlands provide year-round flow as
the source of the York River and the historical
mill sites along its shores as it makes its course
to head tide. Just downstream from York Pond,
Bartlett Mill Pond is home to a heron rookery
and osprey nest. This area has been the focus
of a cooperative conservation effort that has
conserved 600 acres in the watershed, helping
to protect both the wildlife and the water quality
of this important resource.
York and Rookery Ponds are also part of a 2,800-acre
block of land that is not traversed by development
or paved roads. This open land supports species
such as black bear, moose, fisher cats and the
endangered Blanding’s turtles as well as
migratory songbirds such as the Hermit Thrush
and many warbler species.
history is also an important aspect of the York
Pond region. The homestead foundations, gravestones,
and wells of historic Punkintown can be found
by interested hikers, as can the surface quarries
worked by the region’s early settlers.
The York River has a tidal flow of roughly eight
and three-quarter miles to the sea through salt
marshes, farms, forests, residential development
and the port of York Harbor. The watershed drains
21,729 acres, or thirty-three square miles, with
several brooks and streams bringing fresh water
into the upper reaches. Seventy-two percent of
the watershed is in the Town of York with the
remainder in Eliot, Kittery and South Berwick.
the past thirty years, there has been considerable
improvement in the water quality of the York River
and its ability to nurture fish and shellfish.
The Town of York put in a sewer system in the
late 1970’s, and in 2001, the last “overboard
discharge” septic system was removed. The
water is Class B, suitable for fishing, clamming
Maine Natural Areas Program lists the York River
as having statewide ecological significance. Research
conducted by Michelle Dionne, Ph.D., from the
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (a Mt.
Agamenticus to the Sea Coalition partner) found
twenty-nine species of fish in the York River,
or one half the species found in the Gulf of Maine.
The fish found, particularly in the extensive
marshes and brooks at the upper reaches of the
river, were at all life stages and included two
species of Herring, Alewife, Brook Trout, Brown
Trout, White Perch, Winter Flounder and Smallmouth
Bass. Lobster and several clam species are also
found in the river.
the York River is currently healthy and supports
a diverse population of fish species, it is also
listed as a Priority Coastal Watershed by the
Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),
a designation given by the Maine DEP for watersheds
it deems at the greatest risk for degradation
from non-point source pollution. Principal threats
include land use change and loss of riparian buffers.