RUMFORD – Tom Carey has a vision for Rumford and the mighty Androscoggin River.

He wants to see a portion of the river that runs from the dam at the reflection pool to the confluence with the Swift River made accessible for kayakers.

“The river is beautiful, and it’s right under our noses. Why not maximize the opportunity we have here?” he asked.

To try to make the kayaking run possible, he has started a long-term plan to gather support, get the proper permits and do whatever else it might take.

“The best way to sell Rumford is to sell the river,” he said, citing recreational events such as the River Run in October. “This has been on my mind for a dozen years.”

Carey, a local lawyer and solicitor for the town, took his idea to selectmen earlier in the month. They authorized him to look into how to make that stretch of river navigable.

Town Manager Jim Doar believes the long-term project is something that could boost the town.

“It’s early,” he said of the plan. “He has to go through a lot, but it’s a great idea.”

So far, Carey has contacted the state departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, local legislators, Mahoosuc Land Trust and others who may help.

One change in that section of the river that he believes must be made is an easing of the waters just below Memorial Bridge.

He’s thinking strategic boulders in that part of the river may make it possible for kayaks to paddle down, but permits must be granted.

He’s also planning to talk with area contractors about the costs for boulder placement.

“Maybe they would be willing to donate,” he said.

He’s also looking for a way to open a portion of the river between Pennacook Falls and Bethel that is apparently too shallow for motorized craft and would require some dredging.

His dream is to eventually have the river navigable from Bethel to Jay, with only a few exceptions, he said, but for now, the potential kayak route is in the forefront.

An e-mail from state legislative staffer Katie Dzurec emphasized the number of federal and state permits that would be required to make the proposed changes.

For now, Carey welcomes any support and ideas from other river enthusiasts. He plans to go ahead with an application for a DEP permit, and to work toward the goal for as long as it takes.

“To accomplish something like this has substantial benefits,” he said.

He plans to update selectmen periodically on his progress.

Those interested in working toward a kayak run, or any other idea to use the river to boost interest in the town, is welcome to contact Carey at his law office.


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