Freeing a River: Running and Removing Dams on Maine's Penobscot River
The Penobscot River Restoration Project is an innovative public-private partnership to restore self-sustaining runs of Atlantic salmon, American shad, river herring, and seven other species of native sea-run fish while rebalancing hydropower generation on Maine's largest river system. In May 2012, the Secretary of the Interior identified the Penobscot Project as one of two priorities in the region for the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, highlighting the Project as a model of collaboration for multi-partner, landscape-scale conservation and restoration efforts. The unprecedented agreement between the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups, hydropower companies, and state and federal agencies resolves longstanding disputes over management of river resources. Successful completion of the Penobscot River Restoration Project will significantly improve access to nearly 1000 miles of habitat for sea-run fish in the Penobscot River watershed, and hydropower increases at six dams, now owned by Black Bear Hydro, LLC, means hydropower will be maintained or possibly increase within the Project area. When complete, the Penobscot Trust will have removed the two dams closest to the sea — Veazie and Great Works – and decommissioned and constructed a fish bypass at a third at Howland. The Great Works Dam, in Old Town and Bradley, Maine was the first to be removed, in the summer of 2012. Members of the Trust are the Penobscot Indian Nation, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited, and The Nature Conservancy. Project partners include the U.S. Department of Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State of Maine, PPL Corporation, the former dam owners, and more recently, Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC.