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Penobscot River Restoration Trust

Restoring access to critical habitat for the

Sea-run Fisheries of Maine's Largest Watershed

The Penobscot River Restoration Trust and its public and private partners are working to undo more than two centuries of damage that too many dams have inflicted upon the Penobscot River. Removal of the lower two dams (Great Works completed in 2012, and Veazie in 2013) and bypassing of a third greatly improves access to nearly 1000 miles of habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon and shortnose sturgeon, American shad, alewife, and seven other species of sea-run fish in Maine. As fish passage is improved at four remaining dams and energy increased at six, these ecological benefits will be realized while maintaining or even increasing energy production. By reconnecting the river to the sea, the Penobscot Project promises large-scale ecological, cultural, recreational and economic benefits throughout New England's second largest watershed. PROJECT DETAILS

Paddlers maneuvering through the whitewater at the site of the former Great Works Dam.

Paddlers maneuvering through the rapids just upstream of the where the Great Works Dam stood before its removal in 2012.

Artwork by Howland art students

Hands on Conservation! Check out artwork by Penobscot Valley High School art students in Howland, led by teacher Courtney Robbins and inspired by the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

The Penobscot River Restoration Project is an unprecedented collaboration between the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups, hydropower companies PPL Corporation and Black Bear Hydro, LLC, and state and federal agencies, to restore 11 species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River, while maintaining energy production.


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Two Maine River Restoration Leaders Receive National Awards

Posted May 15, 2015

Albuquerque, NM; Each year, the River Network, a national organization focused on river restoration and river communities, recognizes five individuals from throughout North America with their River Hero Award.  River Network's River Heroes Award celebrates rivers and those who protect them by recognizing and honoring those who provide leadership and inspiration.

This year two individuals in Maine received the Hero awards at the national River Rally held in Albuquerque, New Mexico this month.

Laura Rose Day, Executive Director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust and Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director of the Downeast Salmon Federation were recognized at the event, which attracted over 450 people from throughout the US and Canada.

Although Shaw and Rose Day focus their work in different regions of the state, both were lauded for engaging people from many different perspectives in work to improve the health of Maine’s rivers. “People around the country increasingly realize that it is going to take all of us to restore and protect waterways that can sustain people, fisheries, wildlife and culture. It is an honor that Maine can help lead that discussion.” said Rose Day.

Dwayne Shaw whose work is focused on the rivers of eastern Maine pointed to the culture of volunteerism in Maine stating “with public participation and persistence in protecting water and fisheries resources in Maine we have achieved a lot over the past several decades. The people in Maine rely on fisheries and clean water and we work very hard to sustain our way of life”.

Both agree that Maine’s tremendous potential to reverse declines in fisheries abundance is within reach if we continue to invest in creative solutions and bring people together to develop meaningful results.

Rose Day’s organization helps lead the Penobscot River Restoration Project, an historic private-public partnership which aims to restore healthy runs of migratory fish to the Penobscot River system by opening migration corridors through a combination of dam removals and improved fish passage while also maintaining power generation. This summer, several national-class paddling races will take place on the newly free-flowing lower river.

Shaw and his organization operate two wild salmon conservation hatcheries in abandoned and retrofitted hydroelectric facilities and his work focuses on community participation in management of all wild river fisheries in eastern Maine.

Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta

The Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta is a series of national whitewater paddling events to be held in a 9.5 mile stretch of river freed by removal of the Veazie and Great Works dams. Hosted by the Penobscot Nation, the event takes place

July 20-26, 2015



Howland Dam Bypass

construction underway in 2015

Great Works Dam

removed in 2012 

Veazie Dam

removed in 2013 


Over 180,000 river herring passed the new Milford Dam fish lift, and an additional 180,000 alewife migrated up Blackman Stream!  Read more about the 2014 fish count at the link above. 

Watch Video

Dam Removal Photos on Flickr

Penobscot River Watershed selected as one of NOAA's Habitat Focus Areas - find more information here:

Penobscot Habitat Focus Area

Thanks to our many partners who made this project possible!

Scouting out the river conditions the week before the Bashabez Run

Frequently Asked Questions and Project Fact Sheet

1% for the Planet supports the Penobscot River Restoration Project

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