Recent Issues

Churchill Dam is currently used to maintain water levels in Churchill and Eagle Lakes. In addition, the dam is used to control water flow in the Allagash River. Most significantly, the dam provides the river with enough water during the summer months to allow canoeing and rafting. Churchill Lake and the Allagash River are used extensively for canoeing, rafting, fishing, and other recreational purposes.

There are current issues over access to the wilderness waterway. As a 'wild' river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the waterway was intended to be "generally inaccessible except by trail". However, the Department of Conservation has allowed multiple roads, parking lots, and boat launches to be constructed and used. Recreational activities are the greatest pressure for the construction and continued use of these road accesses and other developments.  A lot of this pressure stems from the economic benefits to the region provided by recreational activities. Only two road accesses, at Telos Landing and Twin Brooks, are legally permitted (approved by the Secretary of Interior). The Memorandum of Agreement in 2002, an amended management plan from 2005, and the River Drivers Agreement (from a meeting in 2003 of Allagash stakeholders) all address the need to reduce vehicular access to the waterway. However, there is opposition to these access restrictions, especially from recreational interests such as the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.  In addition, some state legislatures have opposed access restrictions.  Representative Ted Koffman described one incident in which two legislatures bulldozed away barriers to vehicular access to a certain area along the waterway.

Figure 1: A camp along the Allgash Wilderness Waterway                              Figure 2: Recreational canoers on the Waterway

In 2006, the Maine Legislature passed LD 2077, which is an act "to make adjustments to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway".  The act allowed eleven vehicular access points to the river and made six bridges permanent. This act was opposed by many groups such as Citizens to Protect the Allagash. Litigation was pursued over this act. Two Maine residents filed an action in 2007 in the U.S. Magistrate Court against the Director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands seeking a declaration that LD 2077 is preempted by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.  The plaintiffs argued that the state law was in irreconcilable conflict with the federal law. This suit, however, was dismissed because the river is state managed not federally managed.  The judge found that the state had concurrent jurisdiction under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and that state and federal cooperation was emphasized throughout the act.  This means that the state has equal authority as the federal government in regards to managing the waterway.  Therefore, the state has the right to set management policies.  The plaintiffs have so far not appealed the February 2008 decision.

There has also been legal action over construction along the waterway.  One controversy was the reconstruction of Taylor Camps.  Two Maine citizens appealed a Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) permit allowing the reconstruction in 2004.  In 2005, LURC reaffirmed its decision to permit the reconstruction.  The reconstruction of the camps was negotiated and included in the River Driver's Agreement of 2003. 

Another controversy is the reconstruction of a logging bridge road at Henderson Brook.  The bridge, which is used by loggers, is in danger of collapsing.  Attempts to block the reconstruction were rejected by the LURC.  However, RESTORE: The North Woods and six individual people have recently appealed this permit decision. 

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History of Churchill Dam
Downstream of Churchill Dam
Upstream of Churchill Dam
Future of Churchill Dam

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