In 1999, after 10 years of work by NRCM and our coalition partners, the Edwards Dam was removed from the Kennebec River in what is now a model for dam removal across the nation.
For 10 years, NRCM, together with our allies in the Kennebec Coalition (American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter), worked for the removal of the Edwards Dam in Augusta, Maine. In 1999, the dam came down.
Removal of the Edwards Dam has served as a model for dam removal across the nation. For the first time ever, the federal government ruled that the benefits of a free-flowing river outweighed the benefits of the dam and ordered its removal.
Today, striped bass, alewives, and other native sea-run fish are flourishing in the additional 17 miles of habitat restored to the Kennebec by Edwards’s removal. Bald Eagles and Osprey soar above the restored waters in search of fish. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks, boaters with their kids, and anglers with their fishing gear have all become familiar sights in this stretch of river.
Now, thanks to the breaching of the 470-foot Fort Halifax Dam in Winslow, the success story of the Kennebec is much more complete. For 100 years, the dam blocked the mouth of the Sebasticook River, the largest tributary to the Kennebec. The dam’s owner, Florida Power and Light, received permission from the state and federal governments to remove it. Unfortunately, a small group of people living along the slow-moving, lake-like section of river above the dam kept the dam from being removed for five years with a number of lawsuits.
NRCM and other members of the Kennebec Coalition helped fight these lawsuits successfully, and on July 17, 2008, the breaching began. Now, native sea-run fish will be able to return to this portion of the river, and this will lead to good things for the fish, wildlife, and people of Maine.