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South Branch Of The Dead River Survey
FISHERY INTERIM SUMMARY REPORT SERIES NO. 04-02
The South Branch of the Dead River, a tributary to the Kennebec River drainage in Western Maine, provides habitat for indigenous brook trout and wild landlocked salmon. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife surveyed the South Branch in 2003 assisted by volunteers from the Rangeley Region Guides’ and Sportsmen’s Association, the Isaac Walton League of America, and several individuals. We conducted a complete biological survey of fisheries habitat, which allowed quantification of the river’s value as fishery habitat. River morphology was impacted in the early 20th Century by log driving and much of the river remains degraded. Water quality is suitable for salmon and brook trout except that water temperatures exceed thermal tolerances for both species during summer months. The total area of the South Branch of the Dead River is 1,839 acres of which 43 acres (2.3 %) are pools. Ninety-three percent of the river’s area was classified as good to excellent for adult brook trout habitat; 50% was classified as good to excellent for juvenile brook trout habitat. Spawning gravel was distributed over much of the river from mile 4.5 to mile 19 .
We also classified the river morphology, which allowed us to determine the condition or state of the river. Fifty percent of the river’s length was type F (degraded; entrenched and unstable); 30% was type B (riffles/rapids and step pools); 14% was type C (riffles and pools); and 1 % was type E (low gradient, winding ‘deadwater’). Fifty-three percent of the river’s area was classified as highly sensitive to disturbance, including stream bank erosion potential and sedimentation supply. Warm summer water temperatures and a lack of deep pools are the limiting factors for brook trout in the South Branch of the Dead River. In addition to salmon and brook trout, the surveyed lakes, ponds, and streams of the drainage include suckers, sculpin, and 9 species of minnows.
Written by Forrest Bonney
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