Bordered to the west by the Morse River and to the east by the Kennebec River, Popham Beach State Park encompasses over 500 acres of stunning sand beach, tidal saltmarsh, river estuary, and dune habitat. Surrounding uplands are dominated by pitch pine and heath shrub, with higher elevations characterized by oak/pine woodland and open ocean vistas. The site is named in honor of George Popham who together with 100 men attempted to build a settlement here in 1607. Fort Baldwin, less than two miles east on the Kennebec, was built in 1905 and is a favorite stop of summer visitors to the area.

Ornithological Summary

Important breeding species include Piping Plover and Least Tern in the sandy beach and dune areas. The marsh harbors good numbers of breeding Saltmarsh and Nelson?s Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Willet. This is an important migratory stopover site for shorebirds, gulls, and terns, as well as waterfowl, including significant numbers of American Black Ducks. Migrant and wintering Ipswich Sparrows are reported from here annually. Purple Sandpipers use the rocky headlands. Sea ducks are numerous and easily observed here. Rough-legged Hawks use the marsh area in late fall and winter.

Conservation Issues

The site is visited by thousands of tourists, especially in summer. The number of visitors to this area presents substantial management issues that to date have been well managed. Although this site is protected, birds nesting along the beaches face serious pressure from predation and from dogs running off-leash. The park is adjacent to a major shipping channel and thus there are potential threats from spills or other hazards associated with shipping. Sampling of mercury in the blood of sharp-tailed sparrows indicated elevated levels.

Ownership

The park is owned and managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. Popham Beach State Park is accessed via Route 209 about 15 miles south of Bath.

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