With a little more than one week to go before the official start of winter on December 21st, Grand Lake Stream was covered by a blanket of more than a foot of heavy, wet snow. Heavy rains and warm temperatures rapidly melted that snow on December 14th, and streams and rivers rose rapidly. Big Musquash Stream flowed over the Grand Lake Stream road for most of the week. The high flows caused extensive damage in Washington and Aroostook counties in Maine and in New Brunswick, Canada (see reports from WABI and the Bangor Daily News). The extreme high flows washed away many roads, especially where culverts were undersized or became clogged by debris.
Like other forestland managers in the area, Downeast Lakes Land Trust experienced significant damage to the road network in the Farm Cove Community Forest. A full assessment of the impacts will have to wait for spring, because immediately after the storm, roads were too wet to travel, and they were quickly covered by a blanket of fresh snow. “No-name Brook”, near The Pines, washed out its culvert. This is a site where we have a cooperative plan with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Passamaquoddy Tribal Forestry Department to install a bottomless arch, but the work had not yet been completed. There were numerous washouts on the forest lands surrounding the Farm Cove Community Forest.
The good news? The investments DLLT and partners have made in installing fish-friendly bottomless arch culverts and bridges appear to have saved roads and the streams from damage that could have been far worse. If these projects had not been completed, it’s likely far more roads would have washed away, dumping large volumes of sand and gravel in downstream fish habitats.
We will work to fully assess the damages, and then work with partners to seek funding and restore roads and watersheds – maintaining access for people and habitat for wildlife, and working to minimize the damages that will occur the next time high water hits.