According to a press release from Trout Unlimited (TU), river restoration proponents celebrated the completion of the construction phase of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, one of the largest, most innovative river restoration projects in history.
In an unprecedented collaboration, the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups including Trout Unlimited, hydropower companies PPL Corporation and Black Bear Hydro, LLC, and state and federal agencies, are working together to restore Atlantic salmon and 10 other species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River.
The project features two dam removals and recent completion of a fish bypass at the Howland Dam, where partners in the project gathered on Tuesday, June 14, to celebrate the ambitious effort, which saw project officials invest thousands of hours in building trust with local citizens, communities, and federal and state agencies.
Amazingly, every bit of hydropower energy production lost at the removed dams will be replaced by upgrades at six other existing dams in the basin.
The Penobscot Trust—an independent group that included Trout Unlimited, other conservation groups and the Penobscot Indian Nation—purchased the three dams in 2010.
Great Works Dam was removed in 2012 and Veazie Dam was removed in 2013. Howland Dam was decommissioned, with a fish bypass finished in early 2016. Combined with additional fish passage enhancements at four other dams owned by Black Bear Hydro, the project will significantly improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of habitat for sea-run fish.