On June 11th, the Great Works dam in Bradley, Maine began to be demolished in an effort to open up to 1,000 miles of the Penobscot River. The removal is sponsored by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, a $62m public-private partnership, that will also remove the Veazie dam in 2013 and allow fish through two other dams in the state.
All this could be good news for the Atlantic Salmon, which once spawned in the Penobscot. Only 3,000 fish of a population that once totalled 75,000 now remain, and most of those are from hatcheries. Indeed, the tradition of sending the first fish caught in the river to the sitting President was last honored in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was in office. What’s more, the Penobscot tribe has taken just two salmon from the river since 1992, despite holding unlimited rights to the fishery. Allowing the Penobscot to flow freely to the ocean will ease the spawning journey for salmon and other species of fish.