Cathance River by Beginning with Habitat

The Cathance River, meaning “crooked river” in Abenaki, is a roaming 20-mile river that navigates its way through Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, and Topsham. The surrounding watershed is mostly rural with forests, fields, and agricultural lands. The river and the associated Bradley Pond are known for excellent paddling and fishing.

The watershed has habitats for rare plants, waterfowl, mammals, amphibians, bald eagles, and other flora and fauna. This area is relatively free of invasive plants, and the vegetation helps to remove pollutants from the groundwater and surface water before they enter the river.

Like many areas of Merrymeeting Bay, the freshwater tidal marshes along the Cathance River are dominated by wild rice (Zizania aquatica). Less abundant are pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), water parsnip (Sium sauve), soft-stem bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontanii), and river bulrush (Bolboschoenus fluviatilis). Perhaps the most notable inhabitant of this stretch of river is the globally rare Eaton’s bur marigold (Bidens eatonii). More than a thousand individuals of this rare plant live along a 300-meter section of the riverbank. Also present are the rare estuary bur marigold (Bidens hyperborea), spongy arrowhead (Sagittaria calycina ssp. spongiosa), Parker’s pipewort (Eriocaulon parkeri), and Long’s bittercress (Cardamine longii).

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