Dam Removal Marks Turning Point for River Restoration Nationwide
Good morning and welcome to this historic celebration for the people, wildlife and communities of the Kennebec River.
My name is Brownie Carson. I am the executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and am pleased to be speaking on behalf of the Kennebec Coalition, which includes the Natural Resources Council of Maine, American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter.
History is being made today as we witness one of the most significant river restoration projects in the history of Maine and the nation.
In a few minutes, the Kennebec River will be free flowing permanently for the first time since 1837. Sturgeon, striped bass, alewives, shad, salmon and other fish of the Kennebec will have access to 17 miles of prime spawning habitat for the first time in 162 years – giving them reason to celebrate as well.
As populations of fish in the Kennebec soar, so too will the eagles, ospreys and other wildlife that depend on a healthy river. Riverside communities that have turned their backs to the river for more than a century will have a new opportunity to seize the rich beauty of the Kennebec and cherish it as a bountiful local resource.
We can celebrate a rebirth of the Kennebec river today in no small part because of the leadership of Maine’s own Senator Ed Muskie, who insisted that our nation’s waters be cleaned up. He and other leaders, including the late Representative Donald Carter of Winslow, believed in our Kennebec River and its ability to recover from decades of pollution.
Many others partners played important roles in bringing us to today’s landmark event – Governors John McKernan and Angus King; dedicated professionals in the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Maine’s natural resource and planning agencies, and the anglers and conservationists who have always loved this river.
We are here today with the collective view that removal of this dam on this great river at this time in history makes sense. It makes sense for the river, for the wildlife, and for the communities of this valley.
The Kennebec River has worked hard for the people of this state for hundreds of years. In removing this dam, we are returning the favor.
Let us ring in a new era for the Kennebec River, for the people, businesses and communities that line the shores, for the fish that inhabit the waters and for the natural systems on which all life depends.