Through a combination of federal grants and private donations, a coalition of seven conservation groups called the Penobscot River Restoration Trust have gathered enough money to purchase and demolish two dams and install a fish bypass on another. By doing so, they hope to replenish the thinning Atlantic salmon, river herring, and many other migratory fish populations.
While the move is unprecedented, it is not without some flaws.
The PPL Corporation, the power company which currently owns the dams, currently has no plans to replace the lost power with a new sustainable source. Instead it has increased the output from three up-river dams and intends to reactivate the turbines on another currently inactive dam.
Regardless, these are two dams that Maine will not miss. By removing them, the river’s ecosystem will recover from the years of sediment impoundment on the river bottom. When the project is completed in 2012, nearly 1,000 miles of the river will flow unimpeded, re-establishing the food chain from the plants and insects up, and eventually reviving the local fishing industry.
Image courtesy of Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
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