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Next Step in Historic Fish Passage Project on Penobscot River

Today, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River. This removal will reconnect the river to the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. Breaching this dam—the dam closest to the sea—is the next step in a larger effort to improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of river habitat on the river.

Last summer, we removed the Great Works Dam; additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed could start as early as next year.  These removals will greatly improve access to spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad, and river herring. They will also benefit the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, and other fish will be able to access 100 percent of their historic habitat.

Reconnecting the river to the sea will revitalize cultural, recreational, ecological, and economic opportunities for the region and beyond. The removal of the Great Works dam, which was partially funded by NOAA through the Recovery Act, supported more than 250 jobs including engineering, hydrology, construction, science, and local contracting services. Similar benefits are expected for the Veazie Dam removal. With the river flowing freely, fishers, kayakers, and paddlers will have increased opportunities for recreation on the river.

Hailed for its collaborative approach, this unprecedented public-private partnership has been called a model for restoring fisheries while maintaining hydropower production. The project is part of collaboration between the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, NOAA and other federal and state agencies, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and seven conservation groups.

Posted July 22, 2013

The Veazie Dam, which will be removed as part of an effort to open 1,000 miles of the Penobscot River for fish passage.