Old Town, ME – Partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Project have been awarded a 2008 Cooperative Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The award recognizes the unprecedented collaboration to restore 11 species of sea-run fish while rebalancing hydropower generated on the river.
Representatives from the Penobscot River Restoration Trust (Penobscot Trust), dam owner PPL Corp., and the Penobscot Indian Nation are attending the award ceremony today in Washington, D.C. The Cooperative Conservation Award is presented to groups and individuals who have realized significant conservation achievements that involve collaborative activity among a diverse range of entities.
“We are honored to be working with so many citizens, tribal, state and federal governments, conservation groups and private businesses to bring back the many values this great river provides to all of us,” said Laura Rose Day, Executive Director of the Penobscot Trust. “Through the creativity and commitment of all these parties, we’ve constructed a plan that will restore the valuable sea-run fisheries of the Penobscot River and cultural, ecological and economic benefits, while maintaining hydropower generation.”
When complete, the project will help restore native fisheries by markedly improving access to nearly 1000 miles of significant habitat for Atlantic salmon, American shad, shortnose sturgeon and several other species of sea-run fish that once formed a thriving Penobscot River ecosystem that supported diverse cultural, recreational, and economic opportunities.
“The Penobscot Indian Nation – whose ties to the river go back more than 10,000 years – is deeply appreciative of this award, and the Department of Interior’s recognition that the project is not just about removing dams and restoring fish, but also about our cultural survival. This project really shows what we can achieve by working collaboratively to protect the environment, renew our cultural traditions, and provide for local economies,” said Chief Kirk Francis.
The Penobscot Trust and the project’s public and private partners are working toward purchase of three dams, removal of the two dams closest to the sea (Veazie and Great Works) and construction of a fish bypass around the Howland dam. The Penobscot Agreement, signed by all parties in 2004, provides PPL Corporation with the opportunity to maintain energy generation by increasing energy produced at six locations. The initial phase of energy increases were approved and implemented in 2006.
“We’re pleased to be a part of this groundbreaking project, which balances our obligation to our shareowners and our energy customers with our strong commitment to the environment,” said Dennis Murphy, vice president and chief operating officer for PPL’s Eastern Fossil & Hydro unit. “It’s truly a win-win situation for PPL, for the government, for the Penobscot Indian Nation, for conservation and sporting groups, for local businesses that will benefit from a restored fish run, and for the environment.”>/p>
The Atlantic Salmon Federation, Penobscot Indian Nation, Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and American Rivers are members of the Penobscot Trust. In addition to PPL Corp., other project collaborators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the state of Maine (Department of Marine Resources, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and State Planning Office).