The value of the river (as it is) to the town of Dover-Foxcroft

To the Editor;

It has been suggested that the Mayo Mill Dam “serves zero purpose for the community.” I beg to differ.

The dam, and the impoundment behind it, has way more aesthetic, recreational, and economic value to the town of Dover-Foxcroft than would a small park with a few picnic tables in the area of the cove.

There are over 100 years worth of postcards, photographs, and paintings that attest to the aesthetic value of the view up the river from downtown.

On many days in the warmer months there are kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders on the river. There are fishermen in canoes and families in small motorboats casting for trout, bass, or perch from the cove to the trestle. There are families with young children who love to swim in the river on a hot day. I’m guessing that many of these folks might buy snacks or drinks or fishing equipment here in town.

There are several float planes that use the river, including one from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Pilots are able to tie up at the dock beside the Mill parking lot and walk to the Mill Cafe, the Riverside Grill, or Pat’s Pizza for lunch or dinner. 

There are birdwatchers who delight in the variety of waterfowl to be seen on the river, especially in the Spring of the year. We’ve had people from as far away as Rockwood and Lincoln come to photograph wood ducks from our backyard. The list of ducks and other waterfowl that use the river as a rest stop, or stay and raise a family is long, but illustrates that this is prime habitat for migrating birds. We love to listen to the loons at night, and keep track of all the different ducks we see, but if the dam is removed none of these birds would return to the river.

In the winter, once the ice has formed to a safe thickness, it’s often possible to skate from the cove to the island. Once the ice is covered with snow, it’s used by snowshoers, cross country skiers, and snowmobilers.

Another reason for keeping the impoundment would be to maintain the property values of the landowners that abut the river, and even those whose homes have a view of the river. Although the Atlantic Salmon Federation has suggested that property values would stay the same, or even increase, every real estate professional I’ve spoken to feels the change would decrease property values.

For all these reasons, for the benefit of the citizens of Dover-Foxcroft and the wildlife that lives on and along the river, I believe we should keep the impoundment. Repairing the dam and updating the fishway would obviously be the preferred solution. But perhaps an acceptable compromise would be to replace the dam with a nature-like fishway which would keep most of the impoundment for the many people who recreate on the river, and for the ducks and loons that have procreated on the river for almost 200 years. If the top of the dam or the nature-like fishway were somewhat lower than the present dam and if the MDOT could elevate the low sections of South Street between East Main Street and Pine Street, most, if not all of the flooding problems might be alleviated. This could be a win-win for everyone!

If the Atlantic Salmon Federation and The Nature Conservancy (isn’t it ironic that the Nature Conservancy would be on board to disrupt so much nature!) would promote the aesthetic, recreational, and economic value of the impoundment to the town versus a small park with a few picnic tables, then perhaps it would be easier to find grant money for the entire project. Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

David H. Perkins


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