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NB Needs Bigger Role in Future of Forest City Dam on International St. Croix: Higgs

Doug Dickinson

Aug 6, 2019
Premier Blaine Higgs wants the New Brunswick government to take a bigger role in fighting to preserve the Forest City Dam that is crucial to maintaining water levels in East Grand Lake and other lakes in the St. Croix watershed.

Higgs, who grew up in the tiny community of Forest City, joined about 150 New Brunswick and Maine residents at a rally to save the Forest City Dam in Weston, Maine on Saturday.

The premier said the dam has a huge impact on the lake system. He said the New Brunswick government hasn't played a role on the issue in the past, but will in the future.

"I’ve met with [Maine Governor Janet Mills] on this very issue and it was one topic of discussion I had many months ago," said Higgs. "I think there needs to be a joint partnership with Maine and New Brunswick to continue how it can run in the future, having oversight there from both province and state."

He said he'd like to see the International Joint Commission "come to the plate for monitoring environmentally and meeting the standards," as well as the mill continuing to maintain and operate the dam.

The dam's owner and operator, Woodland Pulp, is waiting on a decision by the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission on whether they can release the gates and surrender the dam, which could lower the water levels of the lake and the St. Croix watershed.

David Townsend, president of the Chiputneticook Lake International Conservancy, said the federal commission is holding a public meeting on Aug. 28 at 3:30 p.m. EST (American time) in the East Grand High School cafeteria.

Townsend said four parties have been invited to the Aug. 28 meeting: Woodland Pulp, Maine Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Federal Fish and Wildlife, and the Maine Department of Environment. He said CLIC and other conservancy groups were not invited to participate, although they can attend the public meeting.

He added that CLIC will be making comments at the hearing, as well as following up with a submission.

Former Texas legislator Barry Connelly, whose family has owned camps on the East Grand Lake for 51 years, spoke at the rally.

He told the Bugle Observer if the request from Woodland Pulp is granted, he will have mud in front of his house instead of six to eight feet of water.

"I think that is just so crazy that we are even talking about it," he said. "It should never have even come up. What value can come out of turning East Grand Lake into mud?"

Andrew McCain, who owns property on the lake, said he is hoping for good representation from lake landowners at the Aug. 28 meeting.

"It’s a precedent-setting meeting and format, so we don’t really have a clear understanding of how much we will be allowed to participate there, but we certainly are going to have a presence there and make our feelings known as best we can," he said.

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