How will the
restoration of free-flowing river conditions benefit recreational anglers?
fishing opportunities for a variety of sport fish throughout the region will be created. Striped bass are now able to swim beyond Veazie, all the way to the base
of the Milford Dam. Over time, as
Atlantic salmon, American shad, alewife and rainbow smelt populations increase,
these species will also offer attractive new recreational fisheries. Recovery of shad, alewife and blueback
herring also will provide enhanced forage for the existing smallmouth bass
recreational opportunities will be created by the project?
Now that the Great Works and Veazie dams have been removed, the free-flowing stretch of river now offers new canoeing and kayaking
opportunities, including "new" whitewater rapids in Milford, Old Town, Bradley,
Eddington and Veazie. A downriver trip
from Old Town all the way to Penobscot Bay is now possible without portages
around dams. Wildlife viewing should be
improved for hikers and paddlers due to increased species diversity associated with free-flowing river
segments, and angling opportunities will diversify over time. In 2014, the first annual Bashabez Run Canoe and Kayak Race was held in conjunction with Penobscot Nation Community Days (READ MORE). Read an editorial by paddler and business owner Scott Phillips.
How will the
return of sea-run fish in the Penobscot River benefit coastal communities?
Ames, a fisherman, researcher, and MacArthur Award recipient has argued
that along with over fishing, the decline in groundfish stocks is due to
declining herring and alewife populations. Alewives are an
integral part of marine food chains. In
the past, alewives were a forage base that held cod in inshore waters,
sustaining an important fishery. Increases in herring and alewives
would increase the food supply for many species in the Gulf of Maine that are
of economic importance including cod and haddock, and also important recreational
species such as striped bass and bluefish.
Many coastal towns historically leased fishing
rights to alewives; a revival of alewife populations could once again benefit
these communities (a good example is the town of Benton's harvest of 452,000
alewife in 2010, two years after removal of the Fort Halifax Dam). Recovery of economically valuable species
such as striped bass, cod and haddock rely on restored populations of alewives. Lobstermen also target alewives, using them
as a traditional spring bait.
What are the
anticipated economic benefits of the project?
Each of the two
dam removals and the construction of the Howland bypass work require
multi-million dollar construction contracts. The Great Works dam removal,
completed in November of 2012, cost approximately $6 million. This
step created jobs for approximately 225 construction, engineering, and other
workers in the Old Town and Bradley Maine area (an annualized equivalent of 44
full-time construction and engineering jobs). Similar level of job creation is expected
for Veazie Dam removal and Howland bypass construction. Pre-project baseline
science monitoring work has been going on since 2009, a total of 33 positions
employing researchers from all over the state (equivalent of 8 annualized full-time
jobs). Link to Science Monitoring Work
The project has already
resulted in significant investments in hydropower energy and fish passage
improvements by Black Bear Hydro (PPL's successor) in the Penobscot watershed.
To date, those improvements include a $5.2 million re-powering of the
Orono Dam on the Stillwater, construction of second power houses at Orono and Stillwater dams, and expanded output of the Medway, West Enfield,
and Stillwater hydroelectric projects.
Trust has worked with partners such as Eastern Maine Development
Corporation to explore opportunities
around the cultural and natural history of the Penobscot River and the
recreational and economic potential that will stem from restoration of the
river. An economic visioning session with diverse participants provided
community input and prioritized economic opportunities that exist in the
Penobscot River region in connection with the Penobscot River Restoration
River Restoration Trust is continuing to work with individual communities
within the project area on planning for economic development opportunities,
with a particular interest in the potential for redevelopment of sites such as
the old tannery site in Howland that is already undergoing transformation with
a direct connection to the future bypass and restored Penobscot river. The
Trust also participates in regional meetings to build collaborative initiatives
between towns along the river.
A healthy river
teaming with life is a natural draw for visitors and residents alike. We
anticipate a restored river to increase activity on many fronts - by expanding
recreational and commercial fishing and fish harvesting opportunities; by
enhancing whitewater and open-river paddling opportunities, by increasing the number and diversity of birds on the river for birdwatchers to enjoy, by encouraging all
forms of outdoor recreation to include the river - walking and cycling paths,
concert spaces, outdoor parks, swimming, and other uses one might imagine.
The return of the
alewife run will likely draw thousands of onlookers to places like Leonard's
Mills, if Damariscotta Mills is an appropriate comparison. Some towns in the
areas where alewife runs are restored may also draw revenue from selling
harvesting rights, as the town of Benton now does on the Kennebec.
Alewife are ideal lobster bait for Maine's lobster fishermen, since they are a
local, natural food source of the lobster, and can become very abundant when
the living conditions are favorable.