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MEDDYBEMPS, Maine (WABI) – A deconstruction project drew a crowd to the Denny’s River in Meddybemps Monday.
Crews removed an abandoned hydroelectric station.
This is part of a multi-phase plan to restore endangered fish.
“The Denny’s River is one of the few rivers left in the United States that has a population of endangered Atlantic salmon,” says Brett Ciccotelli, a fish biologist with the Downeast Salmon Federation. “Any blockage on the Denny’s River that doesn’t have passage needs to be addressed for salmon to both recover and thrive like they did.”
The Downeast Salmon Federation hopes by removing the remains of the old hydroelectric station, Atlantic Salmon as well as alewives will freely flow into Meddybemps Lake.
“Right now, what happens is the concrete hits the bottom of the water and it creates a box,” explains Ciccotelli. “And in most water flows, there’s too much water flowing down and not enough space for fish to get up.
Jeff Orchard’s family owns land on other side of the river. He recalls when the level of the lake was used to generate electricity through Denny’s River Electric Company More than 70 years ago. it eventually turned into Eastern Maine Electric Corporation.
“A gentlemen that owned it, Harry Smith used to let me start the generator every so often,” recalls Orchard. “And then go out into the street and throw the big switch that hooked it into the grid.”
The company ceased when the land was deemed a Superfund site.
Orchard says he and other Meddybemps residents are excited to watch this new phase of river restoration.
“Knowing what damage it has done to stopping the fish from coming up the river. I am thrilled to see this finally happening,” says Orchard.
The Downeast Salmon Federation has support for this project from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Passamaquoddy Environmental Department and the town of Meddybemps. The next step is to reshape the river bottom and restore the banks. money is still be raised with a goal of next summer.
“This is about as important as any project gets in Eastern Maine on these mainstream rivers,” says Ciccotelli.
Monday, the Downeast Salmon Federation removed the generator, turbines and upper parts of the powerhouse. Next summer, the plan is to return and reshape the river bottom and banks.
Fish biologists say with improved fish passage at this site, alewife numbers in nearby Meddybemps Lake will increase by the 100,000s and support the rebirth of the salmon.
Funds are still being raised for the project. For more information, you can log onto