An agreement between Sappi Fine Paper and conservation groups is intended to improve passage for river herring, shad and other fish in the Presumpscot River.
By Kevin Miller, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
Sappi Fine Paper has agreed to remove dams and improve fish passage along the Presumpscot River in Westbrook under an agreement between the manufacturer, conservation organizations and federal agencies.
The agreement, which is still subject to final approval from regulators as well as Sappi’s board of directors, will reopen a stretch of river in one of Maine’s most heavily populated areas.
The proposal calls for removing spillways or headwalls on either side of an island at Upper Saccarappa Falls and installation of a fish-passage system around the Lower Saccarappa Falls. The changes are aimed at improving access to the upper river for sea-run fish such as river herring, American shad and Atlantic salmon.
As part of the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will modify the fish passage requirements at the next four upstream dams owned by Sappi. Federal licensing for two of the upper dams has been extended as part of the negotiations.
Parties to the agreement include Sappi, USFWS, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Friends of the Presumpscot River, Conservation Law Foundation and the city of Westbrook.
“After engaging in three years of negotiations with Sappi, other parties and our partner Conservation Law Foundation, this settlement agreement will result in vast improvements for our river,” Michael Shaughnessy, president of Friends of the Presumpscot River, said in a statement. “It is an agreement we can all be very proud of. When the dams are removed and fish passage finally constructed, we will have a wonderful result for the river and for the people who live in the Presumpscot’s watershed.”
This story will be updated.