Groups Say Kennebec River Dams Threaten Endangered Atlantic Salmon
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine conservationists say four dams on the Kennebec River are the biggest threat to Atlantic salmon populations, and groups intend to sue to get them removed.
Brookfield Renewable Partners is an international energy company that owns four dams on the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan.
Nick Bennett, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, noted one of the best spawning habitats for Atlantic salmon is in the Sandy River, a tributary above Brookfield's dams. Atlantic salmon are known as "sea-run" fish, they spawn in fresh water but spend much of their lives in salt water.
He said the dams pose an often fatal hazard for the fishes' path to the ocean.
"They really need to be removed if we want to have any chance of restoring Atlantic salmon and the other species of sea-run fish that are necessary for them to be restored like river herring, shad and eels," Bennett asserted.
Groups claim the dams violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers and the Natural Resources Council of Maine have given the required 60-day notice to sue companies under the ESA.
Bennett emphasized when it comes to restoring the species, groups are laser focused on the dams. He pointed out historically, the Kennebec River has been the largest Atlantic salmon run of any river in the U.S.
"These four dams block Atlantic salmon, both from getting up to the Sandy River to spawn, and from getting out of the Sandy River to head back to the ocean to grow into adults," Bennett explained.
Last July, the federal government rejected a Species Protection Plan proposed by Brookfield, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the National Marine Fisheries Service have recommended the removal of one of the dams.
The company shut down three of its four dams for salmon migration earlier this month, with operations set to resume May 31.
get more stories like this via email
The coalition known as "Think Babies Michigan" has secured more than $36 million in funding to offer grants to child-care providers for infants and to…
Nearly 100 school board elections are coming up in Minnesota this fall, with some gaining attention because of the candidates who are running…
The so-called conservative "hostile takeover" of a small, progressive liberal arts college in Florida is seeing some resistance from former students …
High rent prices are draining the budgets of many Nebraska renters, who are paying between 30% and 50% of their income on rent. In some parts of the …
As the federal government nears a shutdown over a budget impasse in Congress, Wisconsin offices that help low-income individuals worry they'll have …
Indigenous leaders are traveling through the Northwest to highlight the plight of dwindling fish populations in the region. The All Our Relations …
Washington performs well in a new report scoring states' long-term care systems. The Evergreen State ranked second in AARP's Long-Term Services and …
A lack of housing options, mental-health challenges and a lack of connections and support have combined to drive an uptick in the number of foster …