Swan Island (Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area)
- New Swan Island Report - A Report tothe Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (PDF)
- 2013 Events
The island management area, about 1,755 acres in size, is located in the Kennebec River between the towns of Richmond and Dresden. It includes Swan Island, Little Swan Island, and several hundred acres of tidal flats.
Swan Island, known for its abundant and often quite visible wildlife (especially nesting bald eagles, white-tailed deer and wild turkey), is actually an abandoned 18th and 19th century town called Perkins Township, and has long been recognized for its varied and interesting history. It was used by Native American tribes, early explorers, and settlers, and was reportedly visited by American historical figures such as Aaron Burr and Benedict Arnold.
The Maine Historic Preservation Commission, with cooperation from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife successfully had Swan Island added to the National Register of Historic Places. The process, which began in 1994 with initial site visits by state archaeologists, culminated in 1995 with submission of formal nomination papers complete with supporting historical documentation and evidence. This listing of Swan Island to the National Register of Historic Places has, at last, bestowed on the island the cultural recognition it so richly deserves.
Each year, more than 4000 people visit Swan Island. The Island's public visitation season runs from May 1st through Labor Day (with limited access through the fall). All access to the island requires reservation with the exception of self-access day visits. For more information on self-access visits to the island see sections below. Interpretive tours and environmental programs are offered to schoolchildren and the public by Department employees.
Operating Season Dates:
Open daily from the first day of May through Labor Day by reservation. From Labor Day through the end of October, Swan Island is open for a limited number of days and times by reservation as time and work schedules permit.
Reservations and Fees:
All people wishing to visit Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area must make reservations, with the exception of self-access day visitors. A nonrefundable reservation fee must accompany the reservation application (the full amount of the reservation fee to be applied to the total fee). Reservation application will not be processed earlier than March 15 annually. User fees shall be established by policy decision of the Commissioner and may be modified as conditions warrant. These fees are charged by the Department solely for the use of Steve Powell WMA including goods and services thereon. Overnight camping fees are subject to a State lodging tax of 7% that is included in advertised fees. No charge is made by the Department for ferry services provided from Richmond to Steve Powell WMA, and the Department assumes no risk or liability for the use of the ferry service by members of the public. For further assistance or to make a reservation over the phone, please call (207) 547-5322.
- Swan Island Reservation Application PDF
To view PDF documents, you will need the free Adobe Reader. If you need assistance, view our PDF Help page, email us, or call us at (207) 287-8000.
The Department provides transportation to and from Swan Island for parties visiting the area. Visitors will be met at the Department's landing in the town of Richmond at the time of arrival specified on the reservation unless special arrangements have been made. Travel to the island by means of personally owned watercraft is encouraged. See below for more information.
Accessing Swan Island by private watercraft is encouraged; however there are a few things to be aware of. Overnight visitors are still required to make a reservation. Day visitors arriving by canoe or kayak do not need to make reservations. They must self register at one of the collection boxes. These boxes are labeled and are located at the island landing and at the campground. A self-access season pass is available. The docks at the landing are for department use and are NOT to be used to store visitor’s boats. The Kennebec River around Swan Island has 5-7ft tides. Please keep this in mind as visitors are responsible for the safekeeping of their watercraft. Click here for a link to tide charts for Swan Island. (These charts are provided as a courtesy only and no guarantees are made as to their accuracy.)
Ferry Schedule (By Reservation Only):
Leaves Richmond Parking Area at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Leaves Swan Island at 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 a.m., and 3:15 p.m.
To get to Swan Island, take Route I-295 to Exit 43 (Richmond/Litchfield). From the exit, follow Route 197 East for approximately 3 miles to Richmond Village. Turn left at the intersection of Routes 197 and 24. The Swan Island parking lot, marked with a brown State of Maine sign, is immediately on your right, next to the brick Richmond Utilities District building.
Click here for a topographical map of Swan Island
The area will be available for daily use between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Campers will be limited to a stay of 2 nights unless extended by the facility manager.
Reservations will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis for a particular date. Time of arrival and departures will also be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis. The department will do their best to accommodate requests but reserves the right to make a final decision as to a visitor’s request. Day-use visitors arriving by canoe or kayak and not utilizing any form of department transportation do not need to make reservations. For more information see section above pertaining to self-access visitation.
Facilities and Services:
Ten Adirondack type shelters are available for overnight use. Modern bathroom facilities and drinking water is located at the campground. No more than six persons will be assigned to a shelter. Limited space is available for primitive camping sites.
Restrictions Concerning the Use of the Area:
- Little Swan Island, portions of Swan Island and some historic buildings are restricted areas. Entrance into these areas is by permission only and all visitors to these areas must be accompanied by Department personnel.
- No access to restricted buildings and maintenance areas.
- Supervision: All groups composed of minors under 18 years of age, must be accompanied by adult supervisors. A ratio of 1 supervisor for every 8 minors is required.
- Fires: Fires shall be built and used only in places provided or designated for such purposes and shall not be left unattended. Camp stoves are permissible if used in areas designated for fire building.
- Refuse: All visitors and campers must "carry out" all refuse and trash.
- Pets: No dogs or other pets will be allowed on the island. (Exception: seeing-eye dogs)
- Firearms, Fireworks: The use or possession of firearms, fireworks, air arms, or similar weapons within the boundaries of the area, above the high water mark, is prohibited; and the hunting, trapping, removal, molesting, injury or damage to any animal or bird, or anything natural within the boundaries of the area, above the high water mark, is prohibited.
Not withstanding the above restriction, Department personnel who are carrying out wildlife management activities that are a part of the Wildlife Management Area Plan and/or individuals who are participating in these activities and are supervised by Department staff may possess and use firearms and may hunt, trap or remove any animal or bird.
The use or possession of fireworks and explosives is prohibited. The Department may grant a permit to municipalities for the purpose of a public fireworks display, when the appropriate permits and insurance are presented and a request is made in writing to the Regional Biologist prior to the event.
- Liquor: No intoxicating beverages or drugs may be brought into, sold, or consumed upon Swan Island.
- Campers must utilize in a proper manner the shelter provided in the area. Tent camping is allowed only in the immediate vicinity of the assigned shelter.
- Mountain bikes are allowed on the island in designated areas only.
Unless otherwise specified, all events take place rain or shine; and normal day use fees apply (please bring correct change). Special ferry schedules apply to scheduled events. For more information and to make reservations for Swan Island events call (207) 547-5322
Saturday June 22 2013
Butterflies of Maine
Bob Gobeil an accomplished Maine Butterfly Survey Participant will be surveying Swan Island. Join him for a discussion on Maine Butterflies and the MBS - http://mbs.umf.maine.edu/. After his presentation spend time in the field identifying butterflies with Bob. Arrive at the Mainland ferry landing before 10am. Return time will be around 1pm. Reservations are a must! Rain Date will be June 23.
|Saturday July 6, 2013
Falcons and Kestrels
Larry Barnes is a Maine Master Falconer and has a wealth of knowledge about Maine raptors. Come see Larry's live peregrine “on fist” and hear his presentation about Peregrine Falcons and American Kestrels. Larry will discuss life history, fun facts and the Kestrel Partnership - http://kestrel.peregrinefund.org/. Arrive prior to 11am to catch the ferry for the 12pm presentation or early and spend the day exploring. Return ferries will be at 2pm and 3pm. Space is limited so call ahead to make a reservation.
|Saturday July 20 and Sunday July 21, 2013
Living History Reenactment
Step back in time to 1755 and interact with this group of historians as they re-create living on the Kennebec Frontier during the French and Indian War. Wander through their encampment to learn and observe local history taking place. For more information on Samuel Goodwin's Company of Fort Shirley/Pownalborough Courthouse, visit www.goodwinwhite.com. Call ahead to reserve your spot for one of the passenger ferry trips to the island. Special Ferry Schedule for Saturday includes trips at 9am, 10am, 11am, 3pm, and 5pm.
Saturday July 27, 2013
Swan Island takes part in Richmond Days Celebration. We will offer $5 island truck tours at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm on Saturday. Each tour will leave the Swan Island landing in the island ferry and travel across the river for a 2 hour tour and then return directly to the dock. Once back at the dock you can join in many other Richmond Days festivities. Space is limited so make sure you put your name on the list at the Friends of Swan island booth located in the Island parking lot on July 27th. For more information on Richmond Days visit www.richmondmaine.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Swan Island?
Swan Island is a state owned wildlife management area with abundant wildlife including migrating waterfowl, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles. It is also the only management area where camping is allowed and programs are provided for visitors. Swan Island was once known as Swan Island Game Management Area. One of the early biologists working there was Stephen E. Powell. After Powell’s death in 1971 the area was dedicated in his memory as The Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area.
Where is Steve Powell WMA?
Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area is located within the Kennebec River at the head of Merrymeeting Bay in Sagadahoc County. It is legally known as Perkins Township and is situated between the towns of Richmond and Dresden. This area is often confused with Swan's Island which is located in the Atlantic Ocean five miles southwest of Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park) and is accessible by auto ferry at Bass Harbor.
What facilities are available on the area?
Adirondack shelters are available to campers. They are 3-sided lean-to's with shingled roofs and a substantial overhang on the open side of the shelter. There is a gravel apron in front of each shelter; a picnic table and fireplace is part of the campsite. The ten campsites are located some distance apart and are arranged along the edge of a grassy field overlooking the river. Water is provided and modern bathroom facilities are available. There is no food or supplies on the island.
How much does it cost to visit the area?
- 3 years and under - free
- 4 years and older - $ 8.00
- Self Access Season Pass
Buy a pass for your guest (Individual pass covers one person, family pass covers up to 6). Call 207-547-5322 for more information.
- 3 years and under - free
- 4 years and older - $14.00*
Business Promotional Passes are available:
Purchase blocks of 5 day passes to distribute to your customers. Call 207-547-5322 for more information.
*Non-profit group camping rates of $12.00 per person per night are available for groups of 15 or more. Group rates are not available from the third week of June through Labor day.
Overnight visits are subject to 7% State Lodging Tax that are included in the fees.
Is it necessary to make a reservation for just a short visit?
Reservations are necessary for all trips to the island. The only exception is for those accessing the island with their own canoe or kayaks for day visits, and not requiring any transportation. To obtain reservations please click here to print out a mail-in reservation form or call 207-547-5322 M-F 8am-5Pm. Please leave your name and number and the best time to reach you and your call will be returned as soon as possible
How do I find the area?
You should go to Richmond village. The landing is located on the Kennebec River near the intersection of Routes 24 and 197. There are two landings on the River at this location, one is for the Town of Richmond, the other belongs to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Both are marked.
Can we take our vehicle or camper onto Swan Island?
No. The Department provides transportation for people only, taking approximately 20 at a time. A parking area is provided on the Richmond side of the Kennebec River where you may leave your vehicle. The trip across is less than three lengths of a football field. Bicycles are allowed on the main center road only.
How far is it from the dock on Swan Island to the campground? Is transportation available?
Nearly 1 1/2 miles. A truck equipped with an open slat-sided body and benches can take you from the dock to the camping/picnicking area. These rides may be uncomfortable for some persons with physical problems, or senior citizens.
Can a small private boat or canoe be used during our stay at Swan Island?
Yes. Visitor’s accessing the island by canoe or kayak must still make reservations for overnight visits. Visitors to Swan Island for day-use and not requiring transportation do not need to make reservations. They simply must self-register and pay at one of two collection boxes. The boxes are located at the island landing site and at the campground. Season passes are also available for day-use self-access. Due to tidal fluctuations of 5-7 feet small boats are not recommended. Docking facilities are for department personnel and are not to be used to store private watercraft.
Is the island large enough so we may do some walking on our own and see some wildlife?
Yes. Swan Island is 4 miles long with a gravel road and nature trails. There is wildlife over all the area and only limited sections are restricted.
Is swimming allowed?
The only swimming opportunity is in the Kennebec River. Much progress has been made in cleaning this river and water quality is rated suitable for swimming. However, certain storm events may cause sewage overflows into the river, making the water unsuitable for swimming for a period of time following the storm. Further improvement in water quality is expected as new sewage treatment facilities become fully operational.
The Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area is owned and maintained by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Its operation and maintenance are supported by your fees as well as revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and federal monies under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. Since the Department receives federal funds, all of its programs and activities must be operated free from any discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap. Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against should write to Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240.