Partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, including the Penobscot Indian Nation, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Trout Unlimited, working with the U.S. Department of Interior, the State of Maine, and PPL Corporation, the dam owners, negotiated a final agreement that will redefine the Penobscot River over the coming years. The Nature Conservancy joined as a full partner in 2006.
The agreement, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June of 2004 lays out a roadmap for restoring the river that will:
This unprecedented and innovative agreement allows:
- Restore self-sustaining populations of native sea-run fish, such as the endangered Atlantic salmon, through improved access to nearly 2,000 miles of historic habitat;
- Renew opportunities for the Penobscot Indian Nation to exercise sustenance fishing rights;
- Create new opportunities for tourism, business and communities;
- Resolve longstanding disputes and avoid future uncertainties over the regulation of the river.
- The Penobscot River Restoration Trust (Penobscot Trust) the option to purchase three dams from PPL Corporation, and subsequently remove the two lowermost dams on the river: Veazie and Great Works;
- The Penobscot Trust, after obtaining the approval of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, to decommission and pursue construction of a state-of-the-art fish bypass around the third dam, Howland, that will, if found feasible maintain the impoundment;
- PPL Corporation the opportunity to increase generation at six existing dams, which would result in maintaining essentially all of the current energy generation;
- PPL Corporation to improve fish passage at four additional dams.
The final agreement was signed by PPL Corporation; the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureaus of Fish and Wildlife, and Indian Affairs, and the National Park Service; four State of Maine natural resource agencies – the State Planning Office, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Atlantic Salmon Commission; the Penobscot Indian Nation; American Rivers; Atlantic Salmon Federation; Maine Audubon; Natural Resources Council of Maine; Trout Unlimited; and the Penobscot River Restoration Trust – a Maine non-profit corporation established in May 2004 to implement the restoration project.
The Penobscot River Restoration Trust was established for the purpose of implementing the core aspects of the restoration effort, particularly the purchase and removal of the Veazie and Great Works Dams, and bypass or, if necessary, removal of the Howland Dam. The Trust's board of directors is comprised of members of the conservation groups and the Penobscot Indian Nation.
See timeline or project fact sheet for more info.