For more than 50 years, NRCM has led efforts to protect and restore thousands of miles of Maine’s rivers, for the benefit of people, fish, and wildlife throughout the Gulf of Maine.
In 1999, working with the Penobscot Indian Nation and other conservation groups, during three long years of negotiations with the hydro developer, the Penobscot River Restoration Project was born. NRCM is a founding member of the project and plays a central role in this effort to improve access to almost 2,000 miles of Maine’s largest river for endangered Atlantic salmon and ten other species of native sea-run fish that feed Maine communities, wildlife, and the Gulf of Maine.
The project has reached tremendous milestones in recent years. In the summer of 2013, for the first time in more than 200 years, the waters of the Penobscot joined with the Atlantic Ocean following breaching of the Veazie Dam. “The river seemed to take its breath,” John Banks, natural resources director of the Penobscot Indian Nation, noted on the day of the breaching. “It said, ‘Ah, freedom. Freedom.’” The breaching of the Veazie Dam followed just a year after removal of the Great Works Dam in 2012.
Before these dams were built, the Penobscot River teemed with millions of fish that fed eagles, bear, and other wildlife, and added vital nutrients replenishing the Gulf of Maine. Now, over time, millions of fish will again be swimming all the way to Baxter State Park and back again to the sea.