Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who’s talking about the Penobscot?

Hear, hear, make way for the fish! The joy for the Penobscot's future splashed all over the news, with more than 50 articles popping up over the weekend through yesterday.

Take a look at what they had to say:
"The dams will fall and the salmon will rise.
That may sound like prophesy, but it’s as certain as scientific predictions get these days, particularly in matters of ecological restoration." From a National Geographic blog

"When an excavator slashes into the berm of the Great Works Dam on Monday morning, it will mark the start of a multimillion-dollar project to allow endangered and dwindling species to return to their historic spawning grounds along Maine’s Penobscot river. When the project is done - and after an additional dam is razed and another bypassed - it will open access to 1,000 miles of habitat for the native fish, including endangered Atlantic salmon." From The Boston Globe

Excavators begin dismantling Great Works Dam. Photo from Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

"Before the destruction began, a tribal elder from the Penobscot Indian Nation used an eagle wing to fan smoke from a smoldering smudge of sage, tobacco and sweet grass over the crowd that had gathered to watch." From The New York Times
"Penobscot Tribal Elder Butch Phillips offered a benediction to the hundreds gathered at the water's edge. "As the river becomes free flowing again, it will sing the ancient songs, as it dances over the falls, the rapids and sand bars, and the indigenous people can begin to experience the relationship that the ancestors had with a healthy, living river," he said." From Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Butch Phillips, tribal elder from Penobscot Indian Nation. Photo from Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
"One of the most important creatures to find relief will be river herring, a class of small baitfish that historically ran in the tens of millions on the Penobscot but now number just a few thousand.  They are tasty meals for cod and pollock, some of the most valuable fish in Maine that vanished when the herring did. Herring are also prime baitfish for the lobster fishery, which in Maine earns $331 million a year." From Forbes.
"There's going be more people that are going to want to get into canoeing or kayaking or even rafting," Phillips says. "Because once we take those dams out, you're going from basically two small, lake-type features to a free-flowing river again and it's going to be nice." From NPR’s Susan Sharon.
"The removal in 1999 of the 917-foot Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River has led to a remarkable comeback by shad, shortnose sturgeon and alewives, an important source of food for larger fish in the ocean. The same players who put together the latest demolition project were also responsible for the earlier one — the Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, private groups like American Rivers, state agencies and the utilities." Also from The New York Times
"After nearly 200 years of bumping their heads against a dam wall, the Penobscot River’s salmon, shad, alewives, sturgeon and blueback herring are a big step closer to being able to return to their native waters to feed, spawn and boost the larger ecosystem.

The beginning of the removal of the Great Works dam between Old Town and Bradley also marked an important moment in the long-term collaboration among some unlikely groups of people: those overseeing hydropower production, the Penobscot Indian Nation, environmentalists and the state and federal government." From the Bangor Daily News.

We are truly inspired to see the Penobscot coming back to life, and not just because of what it means for wildlife and people. As our director, Dan Ashe, said, this project represents the future of science-driven conservation, of enduring partnerships among local communities, businesses and government, and of a promise for long-lasting benefits to the millions of people who depend on the Penobscot.

UPDATE: The Bangor Daily News ran a special 12-page insert on the project, which includes a quote from our director, Dan Ashe, on page 4.  

This is part of a series on fish passage. Read the other blog posts here.


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