Beginning with Habitat


Primary Map 1:

Water Resources and Riparian Habitats

About Map | Data Components | Background Information | Strategies for Local Action

About Map: Map 1: Water Resources and Riparian Habitats

This map depicts riparian areas associated with major surface water features and important public water resources. This map does not depict all streams or wetlands known to occur on the landscape and should not be used as a substitute for on the ground surveys. It should be used as a planning reference only and is intended to illustrate the natural hydrologic connections between surface water features. Protecting riparian habitats protects water quality, maintains habitat connections, and safeguards important economic resources including recreational and commercial fisheries.

Data Components: (Data Sources)

Impervious/Developed Areas- Impervious surfaces including buildings and roads.

Public Water Supply Wells

Source Water Protection Areas- Buffers that represent source water protection areas for wells and surface water intakes that serve the public water supply. Their size is proportional to population served and/or by the type of water supply system. These buffers range from 300 to 2,500 feet in radius.

Lakes, Ponds, Rivers, and Coastal Waters

Intermittent Streams and Brooks

Perennial Streams and Brooks

Subwatersheds- Drainage divides grouped together to form subwatersheds.

Drainage Divides- These are the smallest hydrologic unit mapped in Maine. They contain watershed boundaries for most ponds and rivers in Maine.

Wetlands- The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) uses aerial photographs to approximate wetland locations. NWI data is not a comprehensive mapping of wetland resources and typically under represents the presence of wetlands on the landscape. The presence of wetlands needs to be determined in the field prior to conducting activities that could result in wetland disturbance.

Riparian Habitat- Shoreline habitat depicted using common regulatory zones including a 250-foot-wide strip around Great Ponds (ponds 10 acres in size and greater), rivers, coastline, and wetlands 10 acres in size and greater, and a 75-foot-wide strip around streams. Riparian areas depicted on this map may already be affected by existing land uses.

Shellfish Growing Areas- The Maine Department of Marine Resources maps growing areas for economically important shellfish resources. This map depicts softshell and hardshell clam resources in order to illustrate the relation of these resources to streams and shoreline areas vital to their conservation.

Aquifers- including only those with a flow of at least 10 gallons per minute.

Brook Trout Habitat- Streams and ponds, buffered to 100 feet, where wild Brook Trout populations have been documented, or managed to enhance local fisheries.

In addition, Map 1 (paper version) includes an inset map showing a regional view of watersheds, a diagram depicting the relationship of ground water and surface water, and a brief description of Maine's Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act.

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Background Information:

Maine is blessed with a wealth of water resources, including wetlands, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and open ocean. These waters, and the land along their shores (riparian habitats), are essential for wildlife and for the health, safety, and recreational pursuits of residents and visitors alike. The values of healthy aquatic ecosystems and intact riparian buffers are immeasurable, and include benefits such as:

  • Providing food, water, shelter, and migration corridors for wildlife
  • Purifying and protecting the quality of surface water and groundwater, stabilizing shorelines, and reducing the severity of floods
  • Maintaining ecologically, recreationally, and economically important fish and shellfish populations
  • Providing opportunities for nature-based tourism

These benefits can be compromised by the effects of poorly planned development, and this may ultimately affect human health, recreation, and the economic vitality of Maine's communities.

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Strategies For Local Action:

  • Work with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to prioritize waterbodies (streams, lakes and ponds) in your town that support recreational fisheries or habitat for rare species. Increase the protection afforded these waterbodies throught local shoreland zoning or overlay districts. See the BwH Toolbox sections on Open Space Planning and on Land Use Ordinance Tools for example tools.
  • Consider creating additional local protections, especially along smaller wetlands and first order streams, and adopting shoreland and buffer guidelines. See the BwH Toolbox section on Wetland and Shoreland Zoning Tools for examples.
  • Conduct an information and outreach effort to educate landowners about the value of shoreline and wetland habitats; alert landowners to their responsibilities under the Shoreland Zoning Act and how responsible land use benefits all who share the waterbody.
  • Review public access opportunities (boat launches, bank fishing, and walk in access availability) at each of your town's waterbodies to assess where appropriate access is lacking.
  • Prioritize conservation opportunities in riparian areas. Visit our Financing Habitat Protection section in the Beginning with Habitat Toolbox for a list of funding sources. Think creatively. The US Fish and Wildlife Service North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants, Land for Maine's Future Water Access grants, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's In-Lieu Fee programs may be good places to start.

To learn more about specific strategies for local action, visit the Beginning with Habitat (BwH) Toolbox or contact BwH.

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