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Stakeholder Recovery Efforts

History

Whether it is removal of a large dam or a single road stream crossing, multi-agency planning efforts or the act of a single landowner, every action is important and contributes to the Atlantic salmon recovery picture.

Atlantic salmon conservation and restoration efforts have been underway for more than 150 years. By the mid-1850s, Atlantic salmon had been virtually extirpated from many rivers outside Maine.  The earliest restoration efforts began in 1862 and were driven by depletion of stocks through nonsustainable commercial fisheries, coupled with some habitat loss due to dams.  The Civil War delayed much work on restoring Atlantic salmon stocks until peacetime, and in 1866 Maine joined the first U.S. Federal Interstate Commission in restoring and improving anadromous fish runs in New England rivers (Baum 1997).  Charles Atkins and Nathan Foster were appointed the first two Commissioners of Fisheries for Maine.  Their first report, in 1868, attributed the depletion of Atlantic salmon to impassable dams, overfishing, and pollution, with dams and overfishing as the principal causes.  When Atkins became the sole Commissioner in 1869, he advanced the idea of artificial propagation and in 1871 established the Craig Brook Hatchery.  The hatchery became a Federal facility in 1889. 

Although the Atlantic salmon has not been fully restored since then, the listing has brought about large-scale, multi-million dollar conservation efforts, such as the removal of dams in the Penobscot and removal of impassable culverts in the Machias, restoring accessibility to miles of rearing and spawning habitat. 

Recovery Efforts

A long list of partners in salmon recovery exists.  This list includes:  American Rivers, Appalachian Mountain Club, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Downeast Land Trust, Downeast Salmon Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Protection Agency, Fisheries Improvement Network, Forest Products Council, Forest Society of Maine, Huber, Inc, Keeping Maine’s Forests, Maine Audubon, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Forest Service, Maine Rivers, Maine Tree Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Penobscot Indian Nation, Penobscot River Restoration Trust, Project SHARE, Sewell, Inc., The Nature Conservancy , Trout Unlimited, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Maine; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among many others. 

Penobscot River Restoration Project (www.penobscotriver.org/)

Lower Kennebec River Comprehensive Hydropower Settlement Accord

Road-Stream Barrier Prioritization Efforts of the Maine Interagency Stream Connectivity Work Group

Penobscot Indian Nation Water Quality Monitoring Program

Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement)

Penobscot River Restoration Project (http://www.penobscotriver.org/)

The Penobscot River Restoration project opened up approximately 10 miles of the mainstem Penobscot River through the removal of the Veazie and Great Works Dam – the lower most dams on the Penobscot River.  Fish passage improvements at the Milford dam and the construction of a bypass channel around the Howland dam significantly improved access to nearly 1,000 miles of the river and its tributaries.  Since the project’s completion there has already been significant increases in the numbers of river herring, American shad along with other sea run fish observed passing through the fishway at the Milford dam.  Successful implementation of the project is expected to improve not only native fisheries but also social, cultural, and economic traditions of New England's second largest river, the Penobscot.

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Lower Kennebec River Comprehensive Hydropower Settlement Accord (KHDG Accord, 1998)

The KHDG Accord was put in place to address fish passage issues at eight hydroelectric facilities:  Edwards (removed), Lockwood, Hydro Kennebec, Shawmut, and Weston projects on the Kennebec River and Fort Halifax (removed), Benton Falls, and Burnham on the Sebasticook River.  In 2002, the Anson and Abenaki Offer of Settlement (Settlement) added the Anson and Abenaki projects, also on the Kennebec.  The KHDG Accord and Anson-Abenaki Settlement contain biological triggers for implementing upstream passage on the Kennebec and Sebasticook rivers.  Both are legally binding.  The biological triggers were based upon adults returns of American shad to the Kennebec River; these triggers have not been met and in all likelihood will never be met given poor returns of shad to the river.  Given this, it is unlikely that new upstream fishways will be installed on the Kennebec River under the KHDG Accord. 

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Road-Stream Barrier Prioritization Efforts of the Maine Interagency Stream Connectivity Work Group

For the past several years, the USFWS GOM Coastal Program has collaborated with other organizations to inventory road-stream crossings in an effort to identify barriers to stream connectivity (Abbott 2008).  Aside from characterizing the geographic scope, magnitude, and nature of road-stream barriers in Maine, these inventories have considerable value in providing the basic information necessary to prioritize corrective action among the many severe barriers to the functioning of streams and recovery of key species of management interest.  To that end, the Maine Interagency Stream Connectivity Work Group, a statewide effort to address connectivity issues in Maine, is working to develop a prioritization approach.  The work group has drafted a provisional list of parameters (e.g., miles of accessible habitat upstream of the site) that would inform the relative ecological value of a given corrective action at any single road-stream crossing.  It is anticipated that these parameters will be integrated into adaptations of one or more GIS prioritization tools being developed by The Nature Conservancy, with the ultimate goal of developing a publicly accessible, Web-based application that should allow users to gather information at will (Laser and Moore 2010). 

In addition, the Work Group has developed an on-line Stream Habitat Viewer: (http://mapserver.maine.gov/streamviewer/streamdocHome.html) to enhance statewide stream restoration and conservation efforts.  The Viewer provides a starting point for towns, private landowners, and others to learn more about stream habitats across the State.

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Penobscot Indian Nation Water Quality Monitoring Program

The PIN implements a rigorous water quality testing program throughout the Penobscot Watershed, though predominantly in the mainstem Penobscot and major tributaries between Old Town and Millinocket, Maine.  The program aims to ensure water quality standards are being met and licensed discharges are in compliance with permit conditions, to upgrade river and tributary classifications, to identify and remediate sources of nonpoint source pollution, and to gather data needed to support the role of the Tribe in hydroelectric relicensing.  The PIN has extended its monitoring to include the mainstem Penobscot downstream to the Veazie Dam tailwater as part of the monitoring program for the Penobscot River Restoration Project. The PIN also has a cooperative agreement with the MDEP to share water quality data and technical assistance.  This agreement has led to improved water quality and the revision of water classifications for more than 500 rivers and streams.

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Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement)

Project SHARE (SHARE) was created as a cooperative forum between stakeholders and industry to contribute to Atlantic salmon recovery via habitat restoration in the five Downeast rivers: Narraguagus, Pleasant, Machias, East Machias, and Dennys.  Project SHARE is a cooperative partnership of landowners, State and Federal agencies, universities and other stakeholders that seeks to actively restore fish passage and natural stream function at a landscape scale to benefit Atlantic salmon and other native sea-run and resident fishes. Project SHARE’s primary restoration activity in recent years has been the removal or replacement of traditional round culverts with bottomless structures designed to accommodate natural stream processes and fish passage.  The first pilot project was completed in 2005, and SHARE has now completed hundreds of connectivity projects throughout the Downeast Salmon Habitat Recovery unit restoring and improving access to critical Atlantic salmon habitat as well as restoring the ecological processes that create habitats most suited for Atlantic salmon survival.  Project SHARE has also conducted other restoration activities, including placing large wood in streams to increase habitat complexity, removing remnant log-drive dams, and planting native trees to increase shade along restored stream reaches.

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