News & Notes

Report: Veazie Dam Ceremony, Celebration and Breaching

Friday, July 26th, 2013
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Maine Audubon is proud to be part of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust and this unprecedented project for the people and wildlife of Maine. Our long history of work to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat includes extensive efforts to keep the state’s major rivers open for travel – for fish, wildlife, and people. In the Bangor area particularly, Maine Audubon’s Penobscot Valley Chapter has long advocated to protect the ecology of the Penobscot River and watershed and has played a key role in helping build support for this project.

We support the Penobscot Project because it provides an incredible national example of large-scale watershed-based collaboration and conservation. Maine Audubon is also especially committed to the Penobscot Project because it provides new and exciting opportunities to foster a better understanding of the broad benefits of river restoration to birds as well as to sea-run fish and other wildlife. Birds such as the Barrow’s goldeneye, belted kingfisher, osprey, and bald eagle are likely to benefit directly from an increased fish population in the river, and wintering and juvenile common loons that eat marine fish may also benefit.

In the spring of 2011, IF&W biologist Charlie Todd documented the largest eagle aggregation in Maine in recent times and the highest breeding density of ospreys anywhere in Maine along the Sebasticook River. Mr. Todd attributed this to the large alewife run that was restored following the removal of the Edwards Dam in 1999. The potential benefits are even larger on the Penobscot once we remove the Veazie Dam and complete the fishways upriver and on tributaries, such as the Pushaw Lake Fishway.

Ecological benefits will be broad:

  • New wetland habitat along the riverbanks
  • Possible expansion of rare mussels as they catch a ride upstream on returning Atlantic salmon and alewives
  • More kingfishers, river otters, osprey, and bald eagles feeding on burgeoning fish populations
  • More waterfowl feeding in the open riffles during winter

Opportunities for people to observe and enjoy this wildlife while strolling along the riverbank, picnicking at a riverside park, fishing, or paddling will be greatly expanded. A similar revival on the Kennebec has occurred since the removal of the Edwards Dam, including millions of river herring and a recognized run of American shad, an important and valuable sport fish.

We would like to thank all those who have made this day possible.

View this special report from Maine Audubon board member, Bob Duchesne: