MAINE PUBLIC RADIO NEWS
Dec. 21, 2016
Maine Awarded $6 Million to Help Restore Fish Habitat
By Susan Sharon
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Wednesday that it will invest $225 million in conservation projects around the country, including $6 million for Maine.
The five-year Maine Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Project will help private forestland owners reduce the effects of flooding on road-stream crossings and restore more than 250 miles of fish habitat by replacing and resizing several hundred culverts.
“So a stream is confined by a road and trying to get under a road. And so by building a wider place for the water to get under the road, you’re allowing nature to take its course while you can continue running your trucks in and out of the land,” says Kate Dempsey, the state director of the Nature Conservancy, which is leading the effort in partnership with other conservation groups, tribal nations and large landowners. “It becomes kind of a win-win, because for forest landowners, you want safe, effective roads so that you can continue logging, and we want them to be able to continue logging and be able to protect habitat along the way.”
The project will focus on waterways that have some of the last endangered Atlantic salmon populations in the United States as well as critical Eastern brook trout habitat.
Dempsey says project partners are pledging to more than double the government’s investment on their own.