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We Can Turn a River in Maine Into a Paradise for Salmon

May 28, 2024

  • The Kennebec River in Maine, once a “paradise for fish,” suffered from pollution and dams blocking fish spawning runs, but it now runs mostly clean due to reduced pollution.
  • Four hydroelectric dams on the river still prevent endangered salmon from reaching their key spawning grounds, despite efforts to relicense and amend the dams for better fish passage.
  • Brookfield Renewable, the dam operator, proposes minimal fish bypass efforts, but critics argue for dam removal to fully restore fish populations, a practice already revitalizing other rivers in the U.S.
  • Dam removal could significantly impact energy production but is seen as feasible given Maine’s plans for extensive wind and solar energy development.
  • Previous dam removals on the Kennebec and other rivers have led to ecological recoveries, highlighting the potential benefits of removing the remaining dams to restore fish populations and river health.