The Star-Herald

Caring for Kennedy Brook

Spring has finally arrived in the Star City. As many prepare for enjoying activities outdoors, including picking fiddleheads, going fishing or enjoying hikes at Mantle Lake Park, have you thought about doing your part for Presque Isle’s Kennedy Brook?

The Kennedy Brook watershed is located south of Academy Street and east of Chapman Road and is comprised of a small freshwater stream that flows northwesterly through Mantle Lake and drains into the Presque Isle Stream.  

The Kennedy Brook is a vital stream for Presque Isle which designates and serves as an important wildlife habitat for fish, birds and other aquatic life.  What you probably did not know is that the Kennedy Brook also serves as an important contributor to the local economy.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 33 million anglers spend $41.8 billion annually in the U.S. economy for bait, tackle, licenses and other items to support their fishing adventures.  

Recently, urban development and agricultural operations have altered the water chemistry and habitat of Kennedy Brook, so that it no longer meets the water quality goals of a Class B stream.  Specifically, Kennedy Brook’s water quality and habitat are no longer good enough to support a healthy aquatic insect population or algae.  

You might wonder why we should care if the aquatic bugs or algae aren’t as healthy as they should be, but they are the base of the food chain for our beloved native brook trout.  The insects and algae are being affected by declining oxygen levels, increases in water temperature and higher concentrations of chloride pollutants, as well as stream channel alterations.

Fortunately, in 2017, the city of Presque Isle received federal funds to develop a watershed-based management plan outlining effective actions to restore the water quality and the wildlife habitat of Kennedy Brook.  This plan called for a comprehensive strategy of public education and outreach, as well as technical projects over a 10-year period to address the pollution concerns outlined in a water quality and survey report.  The City Council adopted the Kennedy Brook Watershed-Based Plan in 2019 and is now implementing the first phase of the plan: community engagement and involvement.  

If you have fantastic memories exploring at Mantle Lake Park, enjoy the wildlife that inhabit the Kennedy Brook watershed, care about our city’s streams, or are passionate about water quality, now is your time to consider volunteering on the Friends of Kennedy Brook Association — because, as Dr. Seuss wrote, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” 

Please reach out today to the Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District at 207-760-4602 or the city of Presque Isle’s Department of Economic and Community Development at 207-760-2727 to be part of the solution.  We look forward to answering your questions and having you as part of our stream team for a better Kennedy Brook.

Galen Weibley is Presque Isle’s director of economic and community development. He can be reached at 760-2727 or via email at gweibley@presqueisleme.us.

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