Upstream of Churchill Dam
Water flows into Eagle and Churchill Lakes from smaller streams originating in the Appalachian Mountains. This water then flows through Churchill Dam and downriver until it eventually reaches the St. John River. The waters of Churchill Lake and the Allagash River are part of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and have been designated 'wild' under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway was established in 1966 and was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1970. This limits road access to the area because a 'wild' waterway should be "generally inaccessible except by trail." In addition, there are restrictions on motored boats, construction around the waterway, and other activities in Churchill Lake and the rest of the waterway.
The forest around the Allagash is actively worked for timber. Forest harvesting has visual impacts and can have sedimentation impacts on the river. Most of the working forest around the Allagash is owned by Pingree Associates, Inc and is worked by Seven Islands Land Company. The company claims they try to sustainably manage the forest and they have been 'green certified' by two different organizations for their sustainable practices. Additionally, much of the land around the Allagash River and lakes, including Churchill Lake, has been placed under conservation easements. A conservation easement is a transfer of land usage rights. It restricts development, commercial uses, and/or other activities on the land. The Pingree conservation easements prevent development of the lands under easement. The easements include 2,000 miles of shore frontage on major rivers and streams. In addition, over 110 lakes are included. The Pingree Family and the New England Forestry Foundation placed a total of 762,192 acres under easement. This area is and will remain undeveloped.
Figure 1: Upstream view of Churchill Dam
The Allagash Waterway also contains a significant lake trout population. Additionally, the waterway is one of the few in Maine that has not had many introductions of invasive fish species. The lake trout, brook trout, and other freshwater fish provide populations for recreational fishing in the area. A license is required to fish in the Allagash Waterway and thus guided fishing trips provide revenue to local citizens. Churchill Dam has a mixed impact on fish populations. Deeper parts of Churchill Lake are deficient in dissolved oxygen, which thus threatens trout populations, and the depth of the lake has increased due to the dam. However, deeper water is necessary for cold water fish, especially in the summer. Additionally, lake trout have only been found to reproduce in one area of Churchill Lake and the dam is "crucial" to successful reproduction.
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History of Churchill Dam
Downstream of Churchill Dam
Future of Churchill Dam