Source to Sea trek sets off this weekend

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BETHEL – Canoers and kayakers start a 12-day paddle down the 174-mile-long Androscoggin River this weekend during the 12th annual Source to the Sea Canoe Trek.

Unlike last year, Barbra Barrett is hoping for a bit of help from Mother Nature to raise water levels with some needed rain. She is program coordinator for the Androscoggin River Watershed Council, the group behind the free, popular, educational and recreational paddling day trips.

“I haven’t been on the river yet – summer is happening way too fast – but, I have always been able to get a canoe down,” Barrett stated by e-mail Tuesday afternoon. “Every now and then you might have to get out, (but) it’s not the norm. Hopefully, it will rain hard.”

This year’s event cruises the Androscoggin from New Hampshire through Maine on July 6-9, 12-15, and 19-22, starting on the river’s headwaters at Lake Umbagog in New Hampshire and finishing in Merrymeeting Bay in Bath.

This weekend, the trek paddles down the river to Berlin, N.H. Subsequent weekends will include paddling through the New Hampshire town of Shelburne, and the Maine towns of Gilead, Bethel, Mexico, Jay, Livermore Falls, Lewiston, Auburn, Brunswick and Bath. Each day trip usually has an on-river or on-shore educational component, because the trek serves to promote sustainable communities and responsible river management.

Along the way, Barrett stated in a Tuesday report, paddlers learn about several subjects, including:

• watersheds and their relevance to the environment;

• the importance of rivers as a recreation and natural resource;

• birds, fisheries, and geology;

• rare, edible and invasive plants;

• pollution prevention;

• history of mills and industry along the river;

• sustainable forestry practices, and

• river ethics.

This year’s trek highlights sections of the upper, middle and lower Androscoggin, illustrating the river’s different environs.

“The journey always provides a wonderful opportunity to view beautiful mountain and valley scenery, to see eagles, moose, and other wildlife, and to share the company of other paddlers,” Barrett said.

The trip starts Friday with a 10-mile paddle down the Magalloway River to Errol Dam in New Hampshire, followed by Saturday’s 11.5-mile stretch of the Androscoggin from Errol to 13-Mile Woods. It gets into Maine at Gilead on Thursday, July 12, with a 9-mile paddle from Shelburne, N.H., to the Gilead Bridge.

“The trek highlights the importance of the river and its watershed to the communities it passes through, and has introduced thousands of people to the Androscoggin over the past 11 years, and has introduced them all to the recreational and economical benefits of the river.

“The public’s participation has increased overall stewardship for the Androscoggin and hence, their desire to have a healthy river for future generations,” Barrett said.

For more information or to join the trek for a day, visit www.androscogginriver.org or contact Barrett at 527-2163 or trek@megalink.net.

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