Reconnecting the Penobscot River with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in generations: Veazie Dam Breaching and Commemoration on Maine’s Penobscot River
Eddington and Veazie, Maine, July 12, 2013 /3BL Media / – On Monday, July 22, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River, reconnecting the river with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. The 830-foot long, buttress-style Veazie Dam spans the Penobscot River at a maximum height of approximately 30 feet, with an impoundment stretching 3.8 miles.
Breaching the Veazie Dam—the dam closest to the sea— marks a monumental step in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, among the largest river restoration projects in our nation’s history. Combined with Great Works Dam removal in 2012 and additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed, the Veazie Dam removal is a key component of the historic effort to greatly improve access to 1000 miles of spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad and river herring, and benefits the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, rainbow smelt and tomcod will be able to access 100% of their historic habitat.
Hailed for its collaborative approach, this unprecedented public-private partnership has been called a model for restoring fisheries while maintaining hydropower production and accomplishing large-scale ecological restoration. Reconnecting the river to the sea will revitalize cultural, recreational, ecological and economic opportunities for the region and beyond.
WHAT: Breaching of the Veazie Dam, preceded by a sacred ceremony led by a Penobscot Indian Nation elder and press conference with remarks from state and federal officials. This is a rare opportunity to witness the removal of a major dam for economic, environmental and cultural purposes, on the second largest river in New England.
WHEN: Monday, July 22, 2013
10:00 am Press Conference and Breaching of Dam
11:00 am – 7:00 pm Community Luncheon, Project Tours, Evening BBQ, & Penobscot River to Sea Concert and Celebration
WHERE: Eddington, Maine (morning press conference and activities) ; Veazie Riverview Park and Veazie Salmon Club, Veazie, Maine (evening event)
WHY: The Veazie Dam, an 830 foot long mass of concrete, has obstructed passage of 11 species of sea-run fish to spawning rearing, and nursery habitat for almost 200 years, significantly contributing to the sharp decline of once thriving fisheries that were central to the economies and culture of river and coastal communities. Removal of the dam is a key component of the innovative Penobscot River Restoration Project which is reviving native fisheries and cultural traditions and creating economic and recreational opportunities, while maintaining existing hydropower production along the largest river within Maine.
SCHEDULE OF KEY EVENTS, MONDAY, JULY 22:
9:00 am Arrive at Monument Drive for parking and set up at press conference site (plan for a 15 minute walk to shoreline and press conference site). Earlier arrival will ensure parking closer to event.
Press Conference, Dam Breaching and Community Celebration at the dam site off Monument Drive
in Eddington (see map)
John Bullard, Regional Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Department of Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative
Governor Paul LePage (invited)
Congressman Michaud and other federal and state dignitaries
Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Indian Nation
Drumming, Penobscot Indian Nation
11:00am-2pm Refreshments and Educational Exhibits
2:00pm-4pm Self-guided tours, hosts present at several Penobscot River Restoration Project sites
Community BBQ and Concert, Riverview Park, Veazie (parking at Veazie Community School, see map)
4:00pm-7pm Penobscot River-to-Sea Concert with live music, food and family activities
Field dress required: terrain is rocky and uneven on the river shore.
Parking: There is limited parking on Monument Drive in Eddington. Also, shuttles will run from 9:00am-2:30 pm between Eddington School and Dam site in Eddington off Monument Drive and from 3:45-7:15 between Veazie Community School and Riverview Park.
Penobscot River Restoration Project background:
The Penobscot River Restoration Project seeks to restore self-sustaining populations of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River watershed by opening migration paths between the ocean and upstream habitat critical to rebuilding fish populations. The Penobscot River is the second largest river system in New England, and drains 8570 square miles or over ¼ of the state.
The project originated when PPL Corporation, a Pennsylvania-based energy company, purchased the Penobscot dams in 1999. PPL, along with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Penobscot Indian Nation, the State of Maine, and several conservation groups, worked to develop a comprehensive solution to a large number of issues involving hydropower relicensing, migratory fish passage and ecological restoration on the Penobscot River. This work formed the Penobscot River Restoration Project – the blueprint for restoration and widespread benefits.
In June 2004, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, the non-profit organization formed to implement core aspects of the project, signed the Lower Penobscot River Multi-Party Settlement Agreement, a collaborative, far-reaching blueprint for a win-win, public-private restoration effort.
In 2009, PPL sold the majority of its hydropower assets in the Penobscot drainage, except for the dams that the Penobscot Trust later purchased, to Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC, which now operates and manages the projects locally.
In 2010, the Trust purchased the three dams from PPL for about $24 million in public and private funds opening a new chapter for the Penobscot River, its fish, wildlife, businesses and people.
In 2012, the Great Works Dam in Bradley and Old Town, Maine, was removed.
Veazie Dam removal will be completed over the course of the next year. The current configuration of the dam was built in 1913, but dams associated with sawmills have been recorded at the site from the early 1800’s. The site was purchased in 1889 for use as one of Maine's first hydroelectric facilities.
The Penobscot River Restoration Trust:
The Penobscot Trust is a non-profit organization responsible for completing the core aspects of the restoration effort. Members include the Penobscot Indian Nation, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited, and The Nature Conservancy. Other major partners include Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), State of Maine (ME Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, ME Department of Marine Resources), PPL Corporation and Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC.
The Penobscot River Restoration Project involves restoring the river through three major construction projects, changes in energy operations and re-licensing requirements, a variety of permit obligations, outreach to communities within the project area and to the public at large, planning for economic and community development activities related to the river's restoration, and significant private and public fundraising. http://www.penobscotriver.org/