Augusta, ME – The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) has awarded Scott Hall and Richard Fennelly of PPL Maine a 2009 Environmental Award for their leadership and collaboration in making the historic restoration of the Penobscot River a reality.
The award is given each year by NRCM to an individual or group who whose actions have made a real difference in the protection of Maine’s environment.
The Penobscot Agreement calls for the purchase of three dams, removal of the two dams closest to the sea, construction a fish bypass around another, improved fish passage at several dams, and energy increases at others to rebalance native sea-run fisheries restoration and hydropower generation on the largest river within Maine. Fully implemented, it will improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of historic habitat to enable the restoration of Atlantic salmon, river herring, and several other native sea-run fish while maintaining hydropower.
In the past, the Penobscot River teemed with millions of fish—fish that nourished the people and culture of the Penobscot Nation, fed eagles, bear, and other wildlife, added vital nutrients to the river, and replenished the Gulf of Maine.
“Under the Penobscot Agreement, hundreds of thousands of fish will return annually, and Maine people will enjoy vast environmental, cultural, recreational, and economic benefits, creating a more sustainable future for generations to come,” says Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which is a founding member of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust (PRRT).
“This far-reaching project required strong leadership and vision, and has been widely hailed a national and even international model of collaboration,” says Laura Rose Day, executive director of PRRT. “The diversity of parties to the agreement is remarkable – a power company, state, federal, and tribal governments, and several conservation groups. We could not be more grateful for the hard work of Scott Hall and Richard Fennelly of PPL Maine.”
The project began a decade ago when PPL proposed, with Scott and Dick as their representatives, a far-reaching conversation about the future of its Penobscot dams. Rather than treating its plans for the Penobscot as set in stone, the company came to the table open to broader possibilities. Through a willingness to consider a comprehensive solution working closely with tribal, federal, state, and conservation interests, they created the possibility of restoring the river’s native sea-run fish where many other approaches had failed.
As we know, however, talk does not guarantee a successful resolution, especially when the status quo has been in place for decades. “Scott and Dick took a fresh angle: they brought a productive, creative, and respectful approach to the negotiations that ultimately led to success,” says Carson. “NRCM could not be more pleased to be giving them a 2009 NRCM Environmental Award.”