NEWRY — Two river projects totaling $221,000 were completed this week to protect a town road and cemetery from washing out.

The projects on Bear and Sunday rivers will also reduce hundreds of tons of riverbank erosion that annually muddied the waters, and improve trout habitat, project coordinator Jeff Stern said Friday.

Stern said the Bear River Grange Project treated 540 feet of rapidly eroding riverbank on the lower end of the river by the historic Black Cemetery.

That project cost $145,000 and was funded by the town, a grant from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, and donations from Caribou Springs LLC of Gilead and Chadbourne Tree Farms of Bethel.

The Sunday River Sunny Hills Project, about a mile upstream from the Artist’s Covered Bridge, was built along a 300-foot stretch where the river crept within 25 feet of Sunday River Road and threatened to wash it away, Stern said.

The road provides the only motorized access to year-round homes and seasonal camps, public lands, and recreation sites in the upper watershed.

The Sunday River project cost $76,000 and was funded by the town.

“Newry employed cutting-edge methods new among Maine towns,” Stern said.

At each site, rock vanes were built that jut out into the river from the bank and face upstream. Stern said the vanes deflect flows away from vulnerable banks and back into the middle of the river.

An excavator was used to move huge 6- to 8-foot boulders into place.

“The vanes slope down into the water, a design that ensures their effectiveness at different water levels,” Stern said. “They were keyed into the bank to prevent washout during flood events.”

Log jams and root wads were then positioned between the vanes and attached to the rocks with high-strength cable for additional protection.

Two ‘crib walls’ were also built of hemlock and spruce tree logs at the base of the eroding bank at Sunday River Sunny Hills, Stern said.

After construction, bare areas on both riverbanks were seeded with winter rye and mulched. Seedling pine trees were also planted.

Stern said the projects were designed by Field Geology Services LLC of Farmington, and built by Caribou Springs LLC. Newry contracted with Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting of Harrison to coordinate both projects.

Permits were obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Newry Planning Board (shoreland zoning), and Newry code enforcement officer (floodplain).

Archaeological reviews were also conducted for both projects.

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