Laws, Permits, and Licenses
State and local laws, permits, and licenses may apply to your group. It is your responsibility to know the rules.
- Maine State Law requires each passenger on board to have a properly fitted personal floatation device (PFD)
- Children aged 10 and under must wear a PFD at all times while aboard a watercraft
- PFDs must be type I, II, or III, U.S. Coast Guard approved, and wearable
- Cushions do not count as required safety information
- Boats longer than 16ft must have a throwable PFD
- Life jackets are not required for anyone over the age of 10 using an open bottom tube, but are still recommended.
- Floats and inflatables with solid or mesh bottoms do require PFDs.
The Maine Warden Service recommends that everyone wear his or her lifejacket while boating or floating on the Saco River.
For more information, see the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife page and the the Maine Boater Safety Handbook
A valid Maine fishing license is required for anyone aged 16 and older who is fishing or transporting fishing equipment on inland Maine waterways. You must have your license with you at all times while fishing and must exhibit your license for inspection by any warden, law enforcement officer, guide, or landowner upon request. A digital receipt is acceptable proof of license. To obtain your fishing license online, please visit the the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Boats with motors:
Any boat, including a canoe, that has a motor of any type is required to have a valid registration. Owners of non-Maine registered watercraft are required to purchase and display a nonresident sticker. Click here to obtain your sticker online.
Maine state law prohibits drinking alcoholic beverages in public. Do not consume alcohol of any kind while on public landings. There is a limit to the amount of alcohol transported from out of state. You can not transport more than 1 gallon of wine, 1 gallon of spirit, and a 30 pack of beer per vehicle into Maine. No kegs are allowed on the river. There is NO glass allowed on the river or beaches. Remember to think before you drink, as almost half of boating accidents involve alcohol. It is illegal to operate a motorized watercraft while under the influence. For more information, visit the the Boat U.S. Foundation.
Fire on the Saco:
A fire permit is required for any fire along the Saco River, and can be obtained at Swan's Falls Visitor's Center or Jockey Cap Country Store in Fryeburg, or at Woodland Acres Campground in Brownfield. Permits are by donation only. Fires are to be built on sandbars and beaches only, not up in the woods (even if you find evidence of campfire rings or remains of previous fires). Please keep the fire at a reasonable size and burn only locally sourced wood; do not cut any trees for any purpose. Under NO circumstances should you burn your trash. When fininshed, please completely extinguish your fire with water (NOT sand) and scatter the remains. Fireworks are illegal on the Saco River - strictly enforced!
Barges and flotillas:
The town of Fryeburg has passed an ordinance requiring the registration of all manmade "barges" or "flotillas" used for recreational purposes on the Saco River in Fryeburg, Maine. A barge is defined as any floating device which contains a flat surface, often (but not limited to) plywood, measuring approximately 4 x 8 ft. or more, and raised from the surface of the river by one or more floating devices. The SRRC has the discretion to determine whether or not a floating device qualifies as a barge. All manmade barges or flotillas must obtain a refundable $250 permit from Swan's Falls Campground in Fryeburg. Any barge permitees who do not remove barges from the river or who do not return their barge to the Saco River Recreational Council at Swan's Falls for inspection will forfeit their deposit. For more information, see full barge permit (right) or contact us.