Kennebec Coalition and Conservation Law Foundation news release
April 1, 2022 (Augusta, ME) – As juvenile Atlantic salmon begin their spring migration to and from the Gulf of Maine, conservation groups are calling on the owner of four Kennebec River dams to act to prevent illegal injuries and death to this critically endangered fish species.
Members of the Kennebec Coalition and the Conservation Law Foundation released the following statement today:
“Without real and significant changes from Brookfield we could lose Atlantic salmon forever in the Kennebec. Brookfield has shown a disturbing indifference to the health of Maine’s Kennebec River by killing and harming critically endangered Atlantic salmon in clear violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. Brookfield must take immediate actions to protect Atlantic salmon at its dams during the 2022 migration periods.”
April 1 marks the beginning of the spring migration for Atlantic salmon to and from the Gulf of Maine, but Atlantic salmon going both upstream and downstream on the Kennebec meet deadly, impassable conditions at Brookfield’s four dams between Skowhegan and Waterville. Atlantic salmon must be able to migrate to and from the outstanding spawning and rearing habitat in the Sandy River, which enters the Kennebec above Skowhegan, without being killed or delayed by Brookfield’s dams to prevent extinction of this iconic species in the U.S.
The Kennebec Coalition called on Brookfield to take the following actions during the 2022 migration season:
- At the Weston Dam, open the bypass channel to the fullest extent possible during downstream migration periods for Atlantic salmon (from April 1 to June 30 and from October 15 through December 31). While there are no good options to eliminate take at Weston, this option is feasible and should reduce take.
- At the Shawmut Dam, completely shut down the dam turbines during spring migration (April 1 to June 30) and again during fall migration (October 15 to December 31). In addition, provide maximum spill and open gates to encourage the movement of fish downstream during these periods.
- At the Hydro-Kennebec Dam, completely shut down the dam turbines during spring migration (April 1 to June 30) and again during fall migration (October 15 to December 31). Downstream passage facilities should be operated at maximum discharge during these periods.
- At the Lockwood Dam, during the period when upstream and downstream passage is occurring (May 1 to June 30 and October 15 to November 10), completely shut down the turbines between sunset and sunrise to minimize downstream passage mortality. The turbines should be allowed to run during the day to maintain attraction flows to the upstream fish lift during these periods. During periods when only downstream migration occurs (from April 1 to May 1 and again from November 10 to December 31), the turbines should be shut down completely and downstream fish passage facilities run at maximum discharge.
The Kennebec Coalition consists of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Rivers, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter. Along with the Conservation Law Foundation, the coalition works together to advocate for the restoration of a healthy Kennebec River.