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Little River Watershed

Public Swimming Beaches

Water District Drinking Water Source

The Little River Watershed is dominated by two tributaries; Branch Brook and the Merriland River, which together drain most of the 31.5 square mile watershed. Both tributaries begin in the sandy glacial outwash plains near the Sanford airport. They converge in the salt marshes of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge to form the Little River, which then flows for another mile before entering the Gulf of Maine. Within the watershed are several large blocks of undeveloped forestland. Many of these are within State and privately controlled conservation land and provide important habitat for rare and endangered species, including the endangered Black Racer. Much of this conservation land surrounds Branch Brook , which is a water source for the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District. The Little River forms a large salt marsh estuary at its mouth, which is within the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. This estuary provides significant habitat for wading birds and waterfowl including the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

Two swimming beaches are located at the mouth of the Little River. The dunes on these beaches provide essential habitat for the endangered Piping Plover.

Laudholm Beach extends south from the mouth of the Little River, to the end of Island Beach Road. This beach is managed by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Crescent Surf Beach extends north from the mouth of the Little River, to the end of Parsons Beach Road. This beach is managed by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Development within the Little River Watershed is concentrated along Route 1, Sanford Road, and Branch Road, and is characterized by residences and farmland. This watershed is one of the least developed and most protected ones in Southern Maine with 4,428 (21%) acres either in permanent protection or owned by the Water District. Another 2,863 acres (13%) is Tree and Farm current use taxation programs, and another 8,575 acres (41%) is undeveloped.

Branch Brook is listed as a "Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed" by Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Testing has shown high levels of fecal coliform.
Estuary portion has high nutrient loads.
Ongoing Projects:
Creating a corridor of protected lands from the Kennebunk Plains to the Gulf of Maine
Each town is constructing land use maps as part of their comprehensive planning process
Kennebunk developing an Open Space Plan
Watershed Management Council formed by municipalities (2006)
Key Resource(s) for Little River Watershed:
(Click the Title of the entry below to learn more.)
Great Works Regional Land Trust
Community Assistance Providers

Serving the communities of Berwick, Eliot, Ogunquit, and Wells.

Kennebunk Land Trust
Community Assistance Providers
A land trust serving Kennebunk, Arundel, and Lyman.
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
Community Assistance Providers
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve is dedicated to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine through integrated research, education, stewardship, environmental learning, and community partnerships.
Merriland River - Branch Brook - Little River Watershed Conservation Strategy
Outreach Publications

Compilation of watershed based information

Branch Brook Aquifer Study
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Water resource study of the aquifer in the Wells, Kennebunk area.
Merriland River, Branch Brook, and Little River (MBLR) Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Plan to advance local supported watershed management.
Towns located in Watershed:
Kennebunk [ME]
Sanford [ME]
Wells [ME]
Counties located in Watershed:
York [ME]
 Website: www.co.york.me.us
 Phone: 207-324-1571
 Population SWIM Towns: 121,400
 Total County Population: 202,232 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
 Area SWIM Towns: 645.3 square miles
 Total County Area: 1002.6 square miles
Waterbodies located in Watershed:
(WC-watercourse, WB-waterbody)

Branch Brook [WC]; Dog Brook [WC]; Fernald Brook [WC]; Heath, The [WB]; Hobbs Pond [WB]; Little River [WC]; Merriland River [WC]

Little River Estuary
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, Wells, Maine Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. Collaboration with NOAA CSC, Charleston SC