Businesses, Conservationists Debate: Does Restoring Salmon To Kennebec River Require Dam Removal?

Maine Public

Earlier this month, state regulators backed off a proposed plan for managing the Kennebec River, whose cool upstream waters conservationists see as critical for the recovery of endangered Atlantic salmon.

The plan included recommendations that the river’s four hydroelectric dams be taken down — a move the dam’s owners and other stakeholders say could wreak economic havoc.

As the state begins a new stakeholder process, some are looking to successful dam removal efforts elsewhere in Maine that have restored historic sea-run fish populations and even encouraged new economic activity. But prospects of a similar outcome for the Kennebec are murky at best.

A few hundred years ago, Atlantic salmon made their annual pilgrimage up the Kennebec by the hundreds of thousands. These days, it’s more like the tens, and they need help to get past four hydroelectric dams owned by Brookfield Renewable Partners, a Canada-based company.

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