by Judy Harrison
BANGOR, Maine — Six-year-old twins Johannah and Carly Philbrook and their younger sister Lily Philbrook, 20 months, donned life jackets and took their first canoe ride Saturday with their mother.
The Winterport family took a short tour of the Penobscot River with experienced guides during the Penobscot River Revival held at the Bangor Waterfront on Saturday to celebrate people’s connections to one of Maine’s largest rivers.
When they returned to shore, the twins agreed on two things — paddling is hard work, and their parents should buy a canoe now, their mother, Nicolle Philbrook, 34, said.
Creating enthusiasm for and a love of the river that runs past the girls’ hometown was one of the goals of the third annual Penobscot River Revival. The event was designed to be a celebration of the return of health to the river.
It was sponsored by the Lower Penobscot Watershed Coalition. Designed to be both educational and celebratory, the goal of the event is “to encourage a renewed spirit of stewardship toward the river, and remind people of our connectedness to the landscape where we live and the fish and wildlife with which we share a home,” according to a flier about the revival.
The River Revival event was held Saturday on the riverfront while the United Maine Craftsmen held a separate event at the corner of Main and Railroad streets. The craft show began Friday and ended Sunday.
In a tent along the waterfront, Bangor-based artist Sally Gilbert, 42, helped the Philbrook twins make prints of a short-nosed sturgeon and an Atlantic tomcod. The girls carefully pressed colored paper onto the intricately carved, ink-covered linoleum blocks to create the artist’s rendition of the sea-run species.
“It’s really important to have something river-related so kids can practice that connection to the world around them,” Gilbert said. “This is an art project, but they also are learning about the fish in the river.”
One of the more than 30 exhibitors at the event offered information about a project to reopen nearly 1,000 miles of habitat for salmon, shad, alewives and other sea-run fish, such as the ones Gilbert depicted, without reducing net hydroelectric production.
The Penobscot River Restoration Project is an unprecedented collaboration among hydropower company PPL Corp., the Penobscot Nation, seven conservation groups and state and federal agencies to restore 11 species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River while maintaining energy production, according to information on the project’s website.
The project includes dismantling the Veazie and Great Works dams — the first man-made barriers that sea-run fish encounter in the Penobscot River — as well as decommissioning and building a state-of-the-art fish passage around the Howland dam.
Plans for the 2011 River Revival are under way.