Unprotected dams push salmon to the brink

The Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers once teemed with salmon runs of 100,000 or more — but now almost no Atlantic salmon return to the rivers each year.

Unprotected turbines at dams along the rivers are among the leading causes of the declining salmon populations. The dams kill and injure migrating salmon when they attempt to pass through the dams’ rotating blades — akin to having fish swim through the rotating blades of a giant window fan.

To make matters worse, dam owners have refused to implement simple protection measures that have been successfully adopted elsewhere, such as installing effective devices to divert salmon from turbines.

Environment Maine sues to save the salmon

With the number of Atlantic salmon perilously low, the need for action to protect the fish and their habitat is urgent.

In early 2011, Environment Maine and Friends of Merrymeeting Bay sued multiple dam owners and operators on the rivers for failing to take simple, inexpensive measures to protect the salmon.

Since the salmon populations in both rivers are on the Endangered Species List, the dam owners’ negligence violates federal law.

This summer, in a preliminary victory, the courts rejected attempts by the power companies to dismiss the cases.


Preservation Updates

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Letters to the editor, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011: Reject Stacked Panel

Andrew Francis, field associate with Environment Maine, has his letter published in the Bangor Daily News urging lawmakers to reject the findings of the rigged task force studying LURC. 

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Don't 'Short-Cut' Park Process

Gov. Paul LePage’s decision to not take sides in the debate about a proposed Maine Woods National Park is the most rational thing that’s been done about the plan and its opposition recently. What the administration can’t stay out of are efforts to rebuild and diversify the economy of the Katahdin region.

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LURC's Balancing Act

Innovation and responsiveness to input are just the approach needed to address the issues facing Maine. As the pressure on our unspoiled places continues to grow, so too does the importance of having in place a thoughtful, consistent system for managing competing demands and allowing public input. The Land Use Regulation Commission has demonstrated that it is just such an entity, and can manage difficult decisions that balance development with natural values.

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Federal judge says suit over river salmon can proceed

A federal magistrate judge has recommended lawsuits filed by two environmental groups against two companies that operate hydro-electric dams on the lower Androscoggin River be allowed to go forward. Friends of Merrymeeting Bay and Environment Maine say the recommendation is a preliminary victory in their efforts to save the endangered Atlantic salmon from extinction.

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