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> The Project > Fact Sheet and FAQs > FAQs > Community Benefits


How will the restoration of free-flowing river conditions benefit recreational anglers?

New recreational 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 fishery.

What other 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?

Ted 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?

Direct benefits:

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.

Indirect benefits:

The Penobscot 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 Project.

The Penobscot 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.


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