Harris Station in the Future
The Kennebec watershed, shown in blue, drains approximately 6,000 square miles, or about one-fifth of Maine.
Harris Station will continue to be an integral part of hydropower production and recreation on the Kennebec River. There are several proposed projects in the area, as well as the greater Kennebec watershed, that may affect Harris and the Indian Pond area in the near future. The first of those is Plum Creek's development plans for the Moosehead Lake region. Permanent developments, in the form of residential and resort construction, will have numerous lasting impacts on the region and the watershed. Water quality in the area will decline for a number of reasons. Construction projects will remove forestland that stabilizes soil, increasing erosion into the tributaries and eventually the Kennebec. Once the construction phase is completed, increased use of the region will elevate pollution rates in concert with other detrimental effects from high rates of use. These include disturbing wildlife and contributing to deforestation. Traditional land use patterns in the area have been focused on timber harvesting, which although not the least harmful forest activity, can be managed such that standing forests remain over a certain percentage of the land. Residential development of the area, while providing another source of income, is likely to degrade the natural beauty that tourists are anticipated to gravitate towards. Habitat and water quality will almost certainly be degraded by large-scale construction projects such as those proposed in the Plum Creek plan.
Click on the thumbnail image above for a map of Plum Creek's proposal.
Another proposed project that could affect the North Woods around the Indian Pond Project is an east-west highway. The route of the road would be on privately owned property, and stretch from Calais to Coburn Gore, where it would cross into Canada. The concept of an east-west route across northern Maine has been around for decades, but this new proposal seems to have more potential for action. It is being construed as a private toll highway that would cross private lands. The reasoning behind its construction is to link eastern Canada through Maine to the mid-west United States and central Canada. As I-95 is the only large roadway in the state, transportation through Maine, and thus economic development, may be hindered by rising fuel costs and the lack of a direct connection to the west. Canadian transporters are enthusiastic about the prospect of such a road because they must currently divert trucks north around Aroostook County and then back south to meet the Trans-Canada highway in Montreal. The majority of the proposed route is sited along existing roads that are currently dirt roads for hauling wood from harvesting sites. Two roads cited in a recent Portland Press Herald article are the Shirley road and the Enchanted road. Both of these are located in close proximity to Indian Pond. The roadway would be sited with a 2,000-foot-wide right of way to allow for the development of power lines and natural gas pipelines. The implications of development on this scale and heavy traffic through the area could be disastrous for the recreational opportunities on the upper Kennebec. As the process of planning this route progresses, careful attention must be paid to the ecological impacts of the highway. Routing must be prepared carefully to avoid sensitive or threatened areas and protect the North Woods.
Energy production from Harris Station has always been considered important to the Northeastern grid, as it is the largest hydropower project in Maine and one of the biggest in the Northeast. With the passage of the Maine law dictating renewable portfolio percentages for electrical companies, Harris will continue to play a role in Maine's energy production. Harris Station currently provides a significant percentage of CMP's renewable portfolio. As oil prices continue to rise, the global trends will make hydropower even more important on the larger energy market, securing a place for Harris in the future.
Kennebec River Initiative
The Kennebec River Initiative is a coalition that aims to form a collective vision for the future of the Kennebec and work towards achievable goals. Participants in the KRI include the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine, Maine Rivers, NRCM, and Trout Unlimited, as well as many municipalities, land trusts, and businesses. The KRI is involved in identifying priority sites for conservation, protection, and development along the Kennebec corridor, along with efforts to educate the public about the river. Phase One of the KRI's tasks was the creation of an Action Plan. This plan, now complete, details projects along the Kennebec that will be undertaken for a variety of purposes. Detailed maps were created for the entire river that indicated areas or features that needed attention. These maps can be found on the project website, and the maps for the upper Kennebec are also linked to the bottom of this page. A series of public meetings utilizing the maps was held in order to involve locals in the process and identify other important sites or projects. Six program areas were considered in the Action Plan:
- KRI Coordination for Phase Two
- River Access Improvement
- Kennebec Trails
- Corridor Protection and Restoration
- Community-Based Waterfront Development
- Marketing and Tourism
Each of these categories was considered in depth and specific projects were proposed along the entire run of the river. Phase Two of the KRI is concerned with formalizing the institutional structure of the KRI and completing work on the projects identified in the Action Plan. The Kennebec River Council will be created to oversee the completion of the projects. The KRI will be crucial to the future of the Kennebec River and its watershed as a whole, and it is an exciting development in the evolving story of the Kennebec River.
Click on each thumbnail to see the detailed maps of the upper Kennebec from Moosehead to The Forks with proposed project locations marked.
For more information on land use patterns in Northern Maine, see the website for the Landscapes and Livelihoods Conference that was held at Colby College in March 2008. The associated Schwartz, Theberge, and Sinott paper also provides a useful discussion of land use regulation.
Back to the main Harris page.
The history of Harris Station.
Upstream to Indian Pond and Moosehead Lake.
Downstream through the Kennebec Gorge to Wyman Lake.
The relicensing of Harris Station.