FRYEBURG - Every summer thousands of tourists go to Fryeburg Maine, home of the Saco River, for a canoe trip. Recently some canoers stopped coming after dozens of newspaper articles about partying and drunks on the river. It left many people asking the question, is the river safe for families? .
"The Saco is suitable and enjoyable for the entire family," stated Allen Russell, a canoer who owns one of the numerous canoe businesses, "It is a relaxing outing on the river where you can swim and soak up sun on the beaches." .
Of those people who do drink on the river there is twice as many who don't. They have a good time enjoying nature. Even those who do drink, drink socially and don't get drunk, but that's not what everybody thinks.
"The river is a mess," David Lother said bitterly, "Every where people are breaking the no trespassing laws and getting drunk. They leave trash all over the river to boot.".
This summer seemed to be the climax of the wrong doings. First, intoxicated canoers tried to pitch their tents on the shore of the Indian Acres boys camp. After an argument with counselors and police, two members of the group were arrested. Another group of drunken paddlers, angry about fees charged for a campground, threw picnic tables into a bonfire and hurt an employee demanding the money. Later that month, a canoeist that had reportedly been drinking was found dead in the river.
After the horrible incidences and even an article written by the Boston Globe about the problems of the Saco River, law enforcers took extreme actions. The local canoe companies started made generous donations to buy an airboat. This would allow law enforcers to travel the shallow waters to see if anything illegal is happening. By early July the companies had raised enough money to buy the airboat.
"They're surprised because they didn't think we could get out here," Wayne Brooking said "And for the most part, they've been right.