2 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012
Voices for the Penobscot River
Today is a great day for the people, fish, wildlife and communities of the Penobscot River. The removal of the Great Works Dam, combined with other aspects of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, mean the largest river in Maine will get a new lease on life while it continues to maintain its hydro-power production. The Penobscot River has worked hard for Maine people for hundreds of years. Now it’s time for us to take care of the river. NRCM has worked for decades to restore the Penobscot, and is proud to be a founding member of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, and to take part in its creative, cooperative conservation efforts. Lisa Pohlmann, director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine
About the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s Project THE PLAN The Penobscot River Restoration Project was designed to restore valuable sea-run fisheries while resolving long-standing conflicts over river use and provide certainties about future hydropower generation at certain dams. Full completion of this project, and the return of self-sustaining runs of American shad, Atlantic salmon, river herring, sturgeon, and other migratory fish will support a thriving ecological system. It will also revitalize cultural, recreation and economic opportunities that will benefit residents of Maine as well as the thousands of visitors to the states. The non-profit Penobscot River Restoration Trust was formed to implement core aspects of the Project Agreement, including the purchase of three dams. The two lowermost dams, Veazie and Great Works, will be removed. The Howland Dam will be decommissioned and a fish bypass will be constructed around it. Black Bear Hydro, LLC bought six other dams from PPL Corp. in 2008. Hydropower production increases at these dams maintains, and may even increase, hydro-generation on the river and provides stability for the dam owner. THE GOALS • RESTORE self-sustaining populations of native sea-run fish and the overall ecosystem by improving access to nearly 1,000 miles of historic river habitat. • RENEW opportunities for the Penobscot Indian Nation to exercise sustenance fishing rights. • EXPAND economic, recreational and community opportunities. • RE-ESTABLISH a free flowing river from
BDN FILE PHOTO
The Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy particpated in the Penobscot River Restoration project. University of Maine graduate student Stephen Fernandes (pictured holding fish) conducting study on the “abundance, distribution and movements of Atlantic Short-nose Sturgeon in Maine’s Penobscot River.”
Old Town to the Gulf of Maine for the first time in hundreds of years.
CURRENT PROJECT STATUS Since the Lower Penobscot River Agreement was filed in 2004, the Penobscot Trust has worked with its Project Partners secure the necessary funding, permits, and support needed to implement the Agreement. The Penobscot Trust purchased the Veazie, Great Works, and Howland dams in 2010, setting the stage to: • Remove the two dams closest to the sea
(Veazie and Great Works) • Decommission and construct a around the Howland Dam
Concurrently, Black Bear Hydro purchased six dams from PPL Corp. in 2008, assuming their energy opportunities and restoration commitments including: • Improve fish passage at four additional dams including a fish lift at the Milford Dam • Continue to maintain or increase hydropower currently generated in Maine at Black Bear Hydro facilities
This river and its diverse life connect the Northern Forest to the Gulf of Maine.Whether our passion is salmon fishing, preserving Penobscot Indian culture, paddling new rapids, bird watching, or economic development, restoration of the Penobscot River enhances all of our region’s most unique strengths. As a resident of Bangor, I am thrilled to be a part of this landmark project.
This advertising supplement was produced for the
Rick Warren, Atlantic Salmon Federation U.S. board chair and Penobscot campaign vice-chair
by the following Bangor Daily News staff:
Supplement credits: Penobscot River Restoration Trust
Cover Design: John Koladish; Advertising: Jeff Orcutt; Editorial: Debra Bell; Penobscot River Restoration Trust Illustration (pages 6-7): Eric Zelz Photography: BDN File Photos; Penobscot River Restoration Trust; other photos as credited Layout: Debra Bell.
PHOTO COURTESY DAVID BATES/TNC
I was raised to appreciate nature and everything in it; to realize that there’s a balance between taking care of ourselves and the places we live. Ana Rapp, Penobscot Nation member and Maine Nature Conservancy intern
For more information on the Penobscot River Restoration Project: www.penobscotriver.org Penobscot River Restoration Trust P.O. Box 5695, Augusta, ME 04332 (207) 430-0175
BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012 | 3
Welcoming a new era on the Penobscot River
A river, it is said, will always find its course. Sometimes, though, even a mighty river like the Penobscot could use a little help.
For the Penobscot, help came when uncommon allies reached an historic agreement to help restore the river’s free-flowing waters and magnificent sea-run fisheries while also maintaining hydropower. In 2003, tribal, hydropower, state, federal, private and nonprofit organizations set aside decades of rancorous debate, announcing a new, collaborative vision to achieve both sea-run fisheries restoration and energy generation on the Penobscot River.
Support has steadily grown, and the shared commitment to the Penobscot River Restoration Project remains strong as the next chapter in this river’s story begins. On June 11, the Great Works Dam removal will commence, beginning a new era for the Penobscot River and its people, fish, and wildlife. We will commemorate the role that both the dam and onceabundant fisheries played in our past. We will honor that who have shared their ideas, questions and
PHOTO COURTESY FELT SOUL MEDIA
hopes to make the project possible, and generously supported the Penobscot’s restoration through funding, expertise, and plain hard work. We will celebrate how, by marginalizing our differences and focusing on a healthy, revitalized Penob-
scot River for all, diverse partners worked together to achieve great things for Maine and the nation. Above all, we look forward to watching a new future unfold for the Penobscot River. Free-flowing, cascading, vibrant: this stretch of river, buried for generations, will soon be released through the current Great Works dam site on its way to the sea. Soon, Black Bear Hydro Partners will build a new fish lift at Milford and also advance energy projects on the Stillwater. Next year, work will also begin to remove the only barrier that will remain on the lower river — Veazie Dam. Plans for the Howland fish bypass will continue alongside community revitalization efforts. All told, access will be significantly improved to nearly 1,000 miles of habitat for sea-run fish.
A revitalized Penobscot River holds great potential for our state, region and nation. A restored Penobscot can diversify and improve new and existing business opportunities, support rich cultures and traditions, enhance spiritual and recreational experiences, and provide healthy ecological functions needed to support water quality, commerce and abundant life. Beginning with a free-flowing river at Great Works, we have no doubt that the committed and talented people of the region will ensure that the fullest potential of the magnificent Penobscot River is realized. With gratitude, Laura Rose Day Executive Director, Penobscot River Restoration Trust
Removal of the Great Works Dam offers new opportunities for many Recreationists, wildlife enthusiasts, economy, and residents will benefit
By Debra Bell
CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS WRITER BANGOR DAILY NEWS
When the Great Works Dam is removed in Old Town and Bradley as part of the historic Penobscot River Restoration Project, it’s not just the fish that will enjoy the expanded habitat. Recreationists and wildlife will enjoy it as well. “[The Penobscot River] has been used and abused, but a lot of people care to see it get cleaned up,” said Brad Ryder, the owner of Epic Sports on Central Street in Bangor. In fact, the Penobscot River Restoration Project will enable recreationalists to enjoy the river even more.
Karen Francoeur, owner of Castine Kayaks in Castine, echoes that observation.“It’s pretty exciting that we’ll be able to paddle all the way from Orono to Castine,” she said. From quiet waters to wild rapids, the restored Penobscot will open up opportunities for paddlers of all skill levels.. That freedom of access will be a boon to paddlers, fishermen, fly fishers, and anyone interested in enjoying one of Maine’s most diverse rivers. According to Kelly Cotiaux, a Bangor resident and fisherwoman, the project isn’t just about opening the river to sportsmen. It’s about
“The whole thing is a win-win. A free-flowing river offers nothing but good things.” CAPTAIN PETE DOUVARJO, EGGEMOGGIN GUIDE SERVICE
opening the river to enhancing stock fish and reinvesting in local habitat. “The Penobscot Restoration Project is not only about protect-
ing Atlantic Salmon,” Cotiaux said. “Many people think these dams See RECREATION, Page 11 BDN FILE PHOTO
Whether people enjoy the Penobscot River Restoration Project from land with their family and pets, or on the water, the project will restore opportunities for the working river. Kayakers and canoeists will have more open water with varying degrees of difficulty to traverse, wildlife will flourish in an expanded ecosystem, and the river will continue to generate power for Black Bear Hydro.
4 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012
Voices for the Penobscot River
A new chapter for the Penobscot River Collaboration frees river, bringing new opportunities to communities
By the Penobscot River Restoration Trust
Once Maine reopens its largest river and reestablishes its sea-run stocks, sportsmen throughout the country will flock to the area. Sustainable runs of Atlantic salmon, shad and stripers in the Penobscot would spin off benefits to every town bordering the river ... But the key to this opportunity lies in the fact that river towns and cities would not be the only ones to benefit from a revitalized river. Reopening the Penobscot River will restore three different types of fisheries, each with accompanying economic benefits. The first, of course, is restoring the river fisheries; the other two are in the marine world, and would help revitalize the state’s fabled coastal fisheries. Ted Ames, Penobscot East Resource Center and Stonington Fishermen’s Alliance
PHOTO COURTESY USFWS
It’s truly inspiring to see the Penobscot coming back to life, and not just because of what it means for wildlife and people. This internationally recognized project represents the future of science-driven conservation, forging an enduring partnership among local communities, businesses and government at all levels. By reconnecting a thousand miles of river, we will take a critical step forward in wild Atlantic salmon recovery, while providing enduring benefits to many other wildlife species and millions of people who depend on the Penobscot for clean water and jobs. Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
PHOTO OF GREAT WORKS DAM BY ED HUGHES
Rivers are the lifeblood of Maine and none more so than the Penobscot. The Penobscot River system is Maine’s largest, draining more than a fourth of the state — 8,570 square miles of Maine’s wildest country, as well as cities and towns that have grown up within its bounds. Once flowing freely from Katahdin to the sea, the river provided a migratory route for both people and fish. When adult Atlantic salmon, river herring, American shad and other sea-run fish ran upstream, native people of the Penobscot region gathered in villages alongside the river to draw sustenance from the abundant fisheries. Throughout the year, the river and tributaries were used as travel routes to other villages and to the sea, for gathering of plants, hunting, and trade. European colonists also benefited from the river’s bounty as these communities grew by taking advantage of Maine’s natural resources. Industrialization of the Penobscot River, and many other rivers in the Northeast, changed the economy and society of communities here. Early sawmills were the first to dam streams and rivers throughout the watershed. Then, the logging of vast forests in the North Woods led to log drives that stretched from bank to bank for miles. Increasingly, pollution was dumped directly into the river from paper and pulp mills and riverside communities. In the early 1900s, many of these dams were converted to generate hydropower and populations of searun fish plummeted. While industrial activities drove economies, this progress came with a price. The river went from being a source of abundant fish, wildlife, and great beauty, to primarily become a resource of power and transportation and a place to deposit municipal and industrial waste. Human communities were diminished, too –the Penobscot people, already devastated by wars that left surviving tribal members as a small fraction of their original population, had lost major sources of food and water due to decimated fisheries and water pollution. Riverside towns turned away from the river, further evidence of the cost of pollution. The decline in all species of sea-run fish was dramatic, and did not go unnoticed; yet petitions and letters to state governing agencies went unheeded, for a time. In the mid-1900’s, society’s attitudes toward the river and nature began to change, and voices concerned about the loss of Maine’s native fish and wildlife resources began to be heard. The Clean Water Act of 1972 addressed issues of pollution, and state and federal laws tightened regulations on fishing. In the 1980s and mid-90s, attempts to rebuild a dam in Bangor and to build a new dam just below the confluence of the Stillwater Branch and the Penobscot River at Basin
Mills in Orono, led to fierce opposition. It was then that Friends of the Penobscot River emerged. The group worked alongside many others to defeat efforts to continue using the river as primarily an industrial resource. Salmon club members, the Penobscot Indian Nation, state and federal fisheries agencies, national and regional conservation groups, and other local citizens began to focus on fish passage and obstructions caused by dams as a defining issue of conservation on the river. The 1999 purchase of eight dams by PPL Corporation, based in Pennsylvania, marked a turning point in the river’s history. After decades of dam licensing with results that best served neither hydropower nor fisheries, representatives of the hydropower industry, the Penobscot Indian Nation, six conservation groups, and state and federal fisheries
agencies united. Their goal was to find a new approach to re-balancing hydropower, fisheries, culture, recreation and more provided by the Penobscot River. Hydropower, still a valued industrial use of the river, could be managed in such a way that would also help restore and improve the river’s other natural functions and assets. After three years of reviewing a history of public input, finding common ground, and developing a detailed implementation plan, a large-scale concept to restore sea-run fisheries while also maintaining hydropower emerged that would provide lessons for the world. “It was a new way of doing business, coming together with the Penobscot Indian Nation and groups interested in improving fisheries so that we could find long-term solutions to managing river resources,” said Scott Hall, vice president, See PROJECT, Page 5
BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012 | 5
Voices for the Penobscot River
PHOTO COURTESY PENOBSCOT RIVER RESTORATION TRUST
The Great Works Dam has blocked fish passage for nearly two centuries on the Penobscot River. Even with an existing fish ladder, passage for Atlantic salmon is very poor at this site, and salmon caught at the Veazie fish trap often need to be trucked around the dam to upstream spawning habitat. During its nearly 200-year history, the Great Works Dam helped power sawmills and paper mills, and provided power to the various hydropower companies that owned it. The original Great Works Dam was constructed in the 1830s as a “wing dam” built parallel to the shore for sawmills. It was partially demolished in approximately 1887 when the current Great Works Dam was constructed across the river by the Penobscot Chemical Fibre Company, the first pulp mill on the river. Diamond International Corporation acquired the mill and dam in 1968. The dam and powerhouse facilities were sold several times over the next few decades, and purchased by PPL Corp. in 2000. The dam was sold to the Penobscot Trust in 2010 as part of the landmark river restoration agreement.Today, June 11, 2012, dismantling of the dam begins, marking a new era for the Penobscot River as we move one step closer to completing the Penobscot River Restoration Project and restoring access to nearly 1000 miles of habitat for salmon, American shad, river herring, and other sea-run fish, and revitalizing cultural and economic traditions in the watershed.
Continued from Page 4 Environmental and Business Services, for Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC, formerly of PPL, Corp. “This collaboration gave our company the opportunity to develop new hydropower in the Penobscot watershed as part of the Penobscot Project’s balance between energy production and fisheries. We appreciate the efforts of all the partners to work together to realize both energy and fisheries benefits for Maine.” In 2004, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Lower Penobscot River Multi-Party Settlement Agreement, and state, federal, tribal and non-profit signatories committed to a detailed plan to work together to rebuild the Penobscot’s once abundant fisheries, while continuing hydropower production (see bullet points and logos on page 10). “The negotiations laid out a framework designed to restore self-sustaining runs of all 11 species of sea-run fish in the Penobscot,” said Andrew Goode of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “To restore Atlantic salmon we need to give salmon access to their historic river habitat and recognize the importance of the river herrings and other fish that salmon depend on. The Penobscot Project does that and thus gives this river a real chance to thrive, with bountiful fish populations for the first time in almost 200 years.” The project benefits communities up and down the river. But realizing these benefits takes time. The Penobscot Trust and Project partners have been working together since 2004 to navigate a complex permitting process, gather important data on the current river conditions and document what we know about the past, and share information and gather input from people throughout the watershed. After buying the three dams in December 2010, and with federal and state permits in hand, the Penobscot Trust and its partners intensified preparations for the removal of the two dams closest to the sea and the construction of a bypass around the third dam.
First, the Penobscot Trust will remove the Great Works Dam in Old Town and Bradley, an obstruction to fish passage for nearly two centuries. The Veazie Dam will remain in place for Atlantic salmon management, but removal is expected to begin in 2013. On June 11, 2012 contractors begin to dismantle the dam at Great Works, a major leap forward to revitalize the river. R. F. Jordan & Sons of Ellsworth was selected as the contractor for dam removal, bringing generations of experience in construction and an innovative approach to removing the dam, which should be completed by November 2012. “We are pleased to join the Great Works Dam Removal team,” said Patrick C. Jordan, the
“The Great Works Dam played a significant role in the Penobscot region’s history, and its removal to help restore the river will play an equally crucial role in fueling the fisheries, wildlife, and communities of our future.” LAURA ROSE DAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
owner of R. F. Jordan & Sons Construction, Inc. “It’s an exciting job for us, and we are looking forward to working on a project with such a wide range of support that benefits our region in many different ways.” Black Bear Hydro is working in consultation with fisheries agencies to design and construct a new fish lift for Milford Dam, which will be the first dam on the river when the Penobscot project is complete. When the lower two dams are gone, Milford will be the only dam on the mainstem Penobscot between the ocean and about 65 miles inland at Howland. Black Bear is also completing energy enhancements at other dams, supported by the Penobscot Project partners. When all is said and done, energy production will remain at least the same, and may increase, while Atlantic salmon and other searun fish gain improved access to 1,000 miles of ancestral river habitat.
The return of river herring, Atlantic salmon, American shad and other migratory fish is expected to have cascading benefits for other fish and wildlife. Once again commercially important fish such as cod and other groundfish will be drawn to historic feeding grounds in Penobscot Bay, providing a welcome boost to coastal fishing communities. Abundant runs of native migratory fish will provide dependable food for fish-eating birds and mammals such as kingfishers, river otters, osprey, and bald eagles. The river has supported the livelihood and tradition of riverside communities and their residents for generations. With realization of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, the inland woods and waterways of the Penobscot watershed will be reconnected to the sea. Past traditions may resume; new traditions will be created. “The Penobscot River watershed has allowed the tribe to prosper for ten thousand years, providing all the means necessary to sustain itself over that period,” said John Banks, Director of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Indian Nation. “This project restores the opportunity for the Penobscot Nation to, once again, practice an important traditional aspect of our culture that has been dormant since the industrial revolution. The diverse collaboration of interests that has come together to accomplish this amazing project gives me a tremendous amount of hope for the future of our planet.” People will once again experience the vision of millions of sea-run fish returning to the river and its many tributaries to spawn, and observe what it means to see life restored along this great waterway as eagles, otters, and other wildlife benefit from rebounding fisheries. A restored river will offer new and more diverse economic, cultural and recreational opportunities to Penobscot communities, complementing efforts to develop and improve trails and public access that encourage people to get out and enjoy the river. “The Great Works Dam played a significant role in the Penobscot region’s history, and its removal to help restore the river will play an equally crucial role in fueling the fisheries, wildlife, and communities of our future,” said Laura Rose Day, executive director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
PHOTO COURTESY KRISTA SCHLYER
This is one of the biggest and most significant river restoration projects our country has ever seen. The Penobscot is proof that environmental health and economic benefits go hand in hand. We don’t have to choose between healthy rivers and energy production. American Rivers is proud to have played a lead role in the Penobscot River restoration effort, and we hope this success inspires others to dream big about what is possible for their rivers and communities.
Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers
There are going to be enormous benefits both upstream in fresh water and downstream out in the bay. With the changes coming in and around the Penobscot watershed, my charter business stands to directly benefit. More fish to catch equals more anglers on my boat, not to mention the associated items anglers will need to buy when they are here on a fishing trip. Things like lodging, bait, tackle, food, and gas can only help local businesses. Captain Pete Douvarjo, Eggemoggin Guide Service and Maine Charter Boats Association
Today is a day that will be remembered as a most significant event in reuniting our long-lost fisheries resources with their historic homeland. Bringing back these lost relatives continues the restoration of ancient natural cycles of creation in a river we have been connected to for thousands of years, and makes us who we are as a people. Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Indian Nation
8 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012
“A River Runs Through Us”
Voices for the Penobscot River By Butch Phillips
TRIBAL ELDER PENOBSCOT INDIAN NATION
PHOTO COURTESY NOAA
NOAA has long hoped to see the Penobscot River’s Atlantic salmon, herring, sturgeon and shad swim freely to their spawning grounds upstream. This will help spur the growth of these fish populations that are vital to the health of the larger Gulf of Maine ecosystem as well as the commercial and recreational fishing it supports. Eric Schwaab, acting assistant secretary for Conservation and Management of NOAA
PHOTO BY BRIDGIT BESAW
After the dams are removed I envision coming down with my family and celebrating the return of the river, the return of the fish, and the recreational potential. In a short period of time, this river is going to change tremendously and we'll be here to see it. In about five years, we'll see phenomenal changes and it will continue to change over the next 20-40 years. The Penobscot is the core, if you will, of the state … to have this river in the most natural state that we can have it is one of the most wonderful things we could leave as a legacy for the people of the state of Maine. Bucky Owen, prof. emeritus, Dept. of Wildlife Ecology, UMaine and past commissioner, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
PHOTO COURTESY SEAN FITZPATRICK/TNC
Tens of thousands of fish will be able to travel upstream, following in a river that hasn’t run free for more than a century, and paddlers and fishermen will be able to return to one of New England’s great rivers; all because Mainers came together to tackle the challenge of meeting the needs of both the river and the people who live along its banks. Mike Tetreault, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine
As a Penobscot Indian, I have a deep personal feeling for this river. During my many hunting and fishing or canoe trips on the river, I was always aware that I was traveling on the same water and hunting and gathering in the same places that my ancestors have for thousands of years. I often visualize the birch bark canoes slowly making their way upriver to some ancient destination. I am reminded that the bones of my ancestors are buried here and their spirits are still here all around us. It creates a very special feeling, a feeling of spiritual connectedness with my ancestors and the river. The People of the Penobscot have always believed that this river was our lifeblood. In honor of our Ancestors, and for the protection of the future generations, we must continue the efforts to restore the sacredness to the river. Back then, the river was free flowing according to the incline of the land, forming rapids, gravel bars, and islands on its way to the ocean. Its flow was altered only by the rains and the occasional beaver dam on the tributaries. It was clear and pure, clouded only by the spring freshet and the occasional autumn rain. Fish ascended the river from the ocean in great
PHOTO BY BRIDGIT BESAW
Butch, Scott and Sage Phillips paddling in a birch bark canoe.
numbers and were an important part of The People’s diet. The People lived according to the seasons, and moved several times using the river as their highway to the family hunting and fishing grounds. The river was treated as a sacred, living being, to be respected, because it was the life blood of The People. They offered prayers and medicines to appease the spirits for their
protection, guidance and sustenance. The Penobscot Nation is very grateful for the cooperation of our dedicated partners and others who made this project possible. We are all dedicated to continue these efforts in order to have a safer and healthier river for the future generations of all Maine people. The Penobscot Nation is committed to continue our efforts until the fish, wildlife and plants are safe to eat,
and the sacredness is restored to the river. Only then, will our culture be whole again. Only then, will harmony be restored within the Sacred Circle of Life. The full essay is available online at www.penobscotriver.org. You can also view a video of Butch Phillips speaking about the Penobscot River Restoration Project on the Voices of the Watershed page.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012 | 9
Voices of the Wild Penobscot River salmon: A Maine legacy and tradition Penobscot River On the opening morning of water fish” by Izaak Walton and
The removal of the Great Works dam marks the beginning of an unprecedented recovery for wild Atlantic salmon by improving access to 1,000 miles in the Penobscot River. Years of collaboration between the state and federal government, organizations and volunteers have brought us to this historic moment which will yield progress for fish, wildlife and the Maine economy. Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited
The region’s fish and wildlife, diverse boating opportunities and scenic beauty are not only worth pre-serving in and of themselves, but are clearly an asset to economic development here and throughout Maine. What’s so exciting about the Penobscot River Restoration Project is that we have found a way to have both: we can revitalize economic and cultural traditions in communities along the river through restoration of the fisheries within the Penobscot River watershed, while retaining the economic benefits of hydropower generation on the river. Sandra Blake Leonard, Penobscot River Restoration Trust board member and Bangor resident
fishing season, an icy April 1, 1912, Karl Anderson caught a 12-pound salmon and took it to a Bangor market where the fish was packed in a crate with straw and ice. From there he took it to Union Station and placed in the express car of the midday train headed to President William Howard Taft in Washington, D.C. to “show [Bangor’s] honor and respect for the president.” Thus began a yearly tradition of sending to the president the first salmon caught each year. This tradition strengthened Bangor’s reputation as the premier destination for Atlantic salmon angling in the United States. The Presidential Salmon tradition continued uninterrupted until 1954 when the cumulative impacts of dams, habitat degradation, pollution, and over-fishing really began to take their toll on the Penobscot’s famed salmon run. A rejuvenation in the salmon population began again in the late 1970s and the Presidential Salmon Tradition came back for a short period of time. Unfortunately, this modern heyday for salmon angling in the Penobscot, with runs of 3-5 thousand salmon, only lasted until the early 1990s when the salmon population declined to historic low numbers. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush was the last president to receive a Presidential Salmon, and, by late 1999, the State of Maine closed the Penobscot to all forms of salmon angling in an effort to protect the last of these magnificent fish. Ordained as “the King of fresh-
nicknamed “The Leaper” by many an angler, the sleek, silvery Atlantic salmon has amazed and awed people for millennia, both for its wondrous life history and its pure beauty and grandeur. Historically, the Penobscot River held one of the nation’s largest populations of Atlantic salmon, with annual salmon runs estimated at upwards of 100,000 adults prior to the construction of the first dams on the river in the 1830’s. The annual salmon runs supported a lucrative commercial fishery in the river until its closing in the late 1940’s. The recreational fishery for Atlantic salmon that emerged in the latter decades of the 19th century persisted for well over a century. For decades, the angling community has fought to clean up the Penobscot and restore its native fisheries. They helped defeat the rebuilding of the Bangor Dam in the early eighties and then led the fight to defeat the proposed Basin Mills Dam in the nineties. Today there is great hope among the Penobscot, Eddington, and Veazie Salmon Clubs and anglers across the nation that the Penobscot River Restoration Project will allow salmon numbers to rebound and there will once again be a catch-and-release salmon fishery. The Atlantic Salmon Federation, founded by anglers such as Lee Wulff 70 years ago, calls the Penobscot Project the last, best chance we have to restore a major, self-sustaining run of wild Atlantic salmon in the United States.
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10 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012
Voices for the Penobscot River
Primary funding for the Great Works Dam removal and related activities was made possible by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional support was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish Passage Program among other funders. As the Penobscot River Restoration Project moves forward, we are receiving broad and generous support from public, private, and individual contributors. For this we are deeply grateful.
Great things happen when we all work together. We collaborated and found common ground. As a coalition, we are now doing something that no single organization could accomplish alone. The Nature Conservancy would like to congratulate all of our partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Trust on the commencement of the removal of Great Works Dam.
This project will create local jobs over the next three years while maintaining important hydropower generation on the Penobscot for decades while taking the steps needed to restore our native sea-run fisheries. A future of continued economic use along with healthy fisheries in rivers such as the Penobscot are both high priorities for the State of Maine. Pat Keliher, commissioner, Department of Marine Resources
BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012 | 11
Recreation Continued from Page 3
are being removed only for that reason. It is about reintroducing the River to anyone that lives and plays around it as well as attracting others to love it.” That attraction comes from sportsmen as well as from people who enjoy watching wildlife. According to Captain Pete Douvarjo, a charter boat captain in Sedgewick and Registered Maine Guide, the project has the capacity to boost populations of fish species currently threatened by overfishing. Douvarjo says he’s a big supporter of the project and has helped by guiding science teams along the Penobscot. “This whole thing is a win-win,” Douvarjo said. “A free-flowing river offers nothing but good things. Within four to five years, nearly 1,000 miles of river will be opened to spawning habitat.
PHOTO BY CHERYL DAIGLE
Biologists collect information on Atlantic salmon caught at the Veazie salmon trap. Approximately 500 salmon each year are sent to the Craig Brook Fish Hatchery for broodstock. Any salmon above that number are returned to the Penobscot River to continue their journey, typically trucked upstream past the Great Works Dam because fish passage is so poor at that site. With removal of the dam, salmon and other fish able to pass the Veazie Dam will move quickly through the free flowing section of river to tributaries or to the fish ladder at Milford, which will become the first dam on the river when the project is complete. The Veazie Dam is scheduled for removal in 2013 and 2014. Black Bear Hydro LLC is designing and planning construction of a fish elevator at the Milford Dam.
Before the dams, the river was teeming with life. What we must do is restore the rivers to what they
were. Plus, there will be no net loss of electricity generated by the removal of the dams.”
From an economic standpoint, the retention of hydro power after the dams are removed is a boon. “I’ve always thought of the Penobscot as a working river and it always has been since the days of native tribes, transportation industries like shipping and logging, fisheries, and then making power,” said Representative Robert S. Duchesne (D) who represents District 13. “Then we closed it off . This working river needs to get back to doing what it needs to do.” Duchesne is an avid birder and leads birdwatching expeditions around the Penobscot River. He is confident that the removal of the dams will bolster a wildlife resurgence. “The project will restore feeder fish, open up a lot of recreational opportunities and residential development,” Duchesne said. “The rest of the wildlife will come back. That means there will be more opportunities to do more nature-based recreation.”
I’d like to thank my attorneys.
Our complex project management experience is a key to returning sea-run fish to historic habitat in the Penobscot River. The Penobscot River Restoration Project is one of the largest in our country’s history. We collaborated with the Penobscot Indian Nation, dam owners, seven conservation groups and federal, state and tribal agencies to remove two dams, bypass a third, and regenerate the environment while maintaining energy production. We’re doing it for our home state of Maine. We’re doing it because it is the right thing to do. We’re also doing it to make some ﬁsh very happy. Learn more about the Penobscot River Restoration Trust at verrilldana.com/penobscot.
Voices for the Penobscot River
I am thrilled to see the Great Works Dam removed as the first big step in opening up the river. We need to do everything possible to promote business and economic opportunities when they arise. The paddling, fishing, and other recreational opportunities that will come from a freerflowing river will be a boon for paddlesport outfitters, river guides, and many local businesses, and benefit the entire state of Maine. I can’t wait to be one of the first people to paddle an unobstructed river from Old Town to the sea again. Scott Phillips, owner of Northeast Outdoors Sports and resident of Old Town
12 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Monday | June 11, 2012