Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
Northeast Region
 

News and announcements

2013 Archives


Cooperation will be key to restoring St. Croix

Tribal and federal logos from the Statement of Cooperation document.
Logos from the Schoodic River Statement of Cooperation between Wabanaki Tribal Leaders and four federal agencies.

July 10, 2013

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

On June 5, 2013 the Wabanaki Tribe and several U.S federal agencies signed a Statement of Cooperation (PDF 152 KB) to continue working together to restore the St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay watershed.

The unique government to government relationship that exists between Indian Tribes and the Federal government is embodied in Executive Order 13175 (PDF 138 KB), Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, which serves as the cornerstone in the federal government’s work and responsibility to safeguard the rights and interests of Indian tribes.

Signing the Statement of Cooperation followed an April 2013 vote by Maine legislators to reopen fishways on Woodland Dam and Grand Falls Dam to allow sea-run fish to pass.

To celebrate the opening of the fishways, the Passamaquoddy Tribe sponsored a St. Croix River Re-Opening ceremony. USFWS Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, Maine Field Office, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, and Regional Office staff collaborated with the tribe to coordinate the event, along with staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A Passamaquoddy Government-Federal Government Workgroup formed to discuss the first steps needed to recover this watershed, its native inhabitants, and the cultural connection between the tribe and the ecosystem.  The Statement of Cooperation and the Vision and Mission Statement of the Schoodic Riverkeepers (PDF 85 KB) served as stepping stones for this workgroup.

For more information, please contact Sandra Lary (207-781-8364 x19) or Alex Hoar (413-253-8631).

Download the Statement of Cooperation (PDF 152 KB)
Download the Vision and Mission Statement of the Schoodic Riverkeepers (PDF 85 KB)
USFWS Native American Liaison website

Latest articles
Alewives spawn optimism (Portland Press Herald 6/30/2013)

Media coverage of the re-opening ceremony - June 5, 2013
CTV Atlantic (Video, story at timestamp 17:48)
Alewife return merits celebration in Baileyville (AP brief on WCSH6)
Return of alewives on St. Croix River celebrated (Bangor Daily News)
Federal officials pledge continuing support to help restore one of largest alewife runs in the nation (Fly Fishing News)

Past articles

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Maine Stream Habitat Viewer online

Modified header from the Viewer's website.
The Maine Stream Habitat Viewer is hosted by the Maine Office of GIS.

July 8, 2013

Maine has a new online tool that will enhance statewide stream restoration and conservation efforts. The Maine Stream Habitat Viewer, hosted by the Maine Office of GIS, provides a starting point for towns, private landowners, and others to learn more about stream habitats and barriers to fish passage across the state.

For the first time, data on alewife, wild Eastern brook trout, sea-run rainbow smelt and Atlantic salmon habitat is available in one location. Along with these valuable new resources is information on public road crossings and dams representing known and potential barriers to fish passage.

The Viewer was developed by the Maine Stream Connectivity Work Group - a partnership of over 25 industry, state, federal, and non-government organizations working to improve Maine's stream restoration efforts. Slade Moore smoore@bioconserve.net is the Program Manager for the Viewer.

GOMCP developed or edited all of the alewife, brook trout, salmon and smelt habitat and barrier datasets that make up the core of the Viewer. GOMCP also initiated, and has been leading, the development of Maine's statewide stream barrier data for seven years. For more information about GOMCP's involvement with the project as the GIS and Database Manager, please contact Alex Abbott at alexoabbott@hotmail.com or 207-781-8364 x21.

We hope these data and the Viewer can help to launch many new conservation and restoration projects.

Maine Stream Habitat Viewer

Related Stories
GOMCP leads stream simulation workshop (7/1/13)
Upper Kennebec and Meduxnekeag stream crossing survey results (3/1/13)
East Branch Penobscot Road Crossing Project (1/3/2013)
Stream Restoration Initiative (8/31/2012)
GOMCP leads stream-smart road crossing workshops (1/13/2012)

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GOMCP leads stream simulation workshop

Bob Guberneck and the stream restoration class overlooking a stream.
Instructor Bob Guberneck (USDA Forest Service) explains the importance of aquatic connectivity.
Credit: Jed Wright/USFWS

July 1, 2013

Project Coordinator:
Jed Wright
207-781-8364 x12
jed_wright@fws.gov

Greenville, ME.

GOMCP led a 4-day workshop to teach the latest techniques on designing and building bridges and culverts that allow streams and the aquatic life they support to flow naturally.

More than 30 natural resource professionals attended including ecologists, biologists, consultants, hydrologists, civil engineers, forestry managers, public works staff, and restoration practitioners. In addition, four professionals from the Penobscot Indian Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe attended.

Whether culverts or bridges, stream-simulation structures have a continuous streambed that mimics the slope, structure, and dimensions of the natural streambed. The premise of stream simulation is that since the simulation has very similar physical characteristics to the natural channel, aquatic species should experience no great difficulty moving through it. Water depths and velocities are as diverse as those in a natural channel, providing passageways for all swimming or crawling aquatic species.
– USDA Forest Service

The workshop introduced the USDA Forest Service’s Stream Simulation: An Ecological Approach to Providing Passage for Aquatic Organisms at Road-Stream Crossings and featured nationally recognized experts, including instructors from the Forest Service’s Aquatic Organism Passage Virtual Design team.

Participants learned the necessary skills to design road‐stream crossing structures (bridges and culverts) that

  • maximize the long‐term stability of the structure,
  • provide unimpeded passage for aquatic organisms, and
  • restore natural channel characteristics and fluvial processes.

They broke into teams to solve road‐stream crossing scenarios at different stages of the assessment, design, and construction processes. Hands-on site visits complemented and reinforced key concepts as participants assessed and discussed the ecological, geomorphic, hydrologic, and engineering issues at each site.

The workshop was held at Appalachian Mountain Club’s Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins near Long Pond. Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative, USDA Forest Service, Project SHARE, USFWS, AMC, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation all sponsored the event.

Organizing technical trainings and pooling resources with partners allow USFWS staff to expand our conservation impact across a much larger audience and positively impact restoration projects across the state.

Workshop participants in a classroom. Workshop participants at a field site.
Classroom instruction. Credit: Jed Wright/USFWS Site visit. Credit: Jed Wright/USFWS

Download the workshop brochure (PDF 480 KB)
Download "Stream Simulation: An Ecological Approach to Providing Passage for Aquatic Organisms at Road-Stream Crossings"
Download "Maine Stream Crossings: New Designs to Restore Continuity"

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Fish passage restored on Flanders Stream

Alewives in totes.
Alewife harvest.
Credit: Gary Edwards/Town of Sullivan
 
Alewife trap.
Alewife trap set up within the new culvert.
Credit: Gary Edwards/Town of Sullivan
 
Sumner Pathways students at the site.
Sumner Pathways students at the site.
Credit: Gary Edwards/Town of Sullivan
 
New interpretive sign for the project.
New interpretive sign for the project.
Credit: Gary Edwards/Town of Sullivan

June 25, 2013

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19
sandra_lary@fws.gov

 

Town of Sullivan, ME.

Only months after removing a barrier on Flanders Stream and restoring connectivity between Flanders Pond, coastal Flanders Bay, and Frenchman Bay in the Gulf of Maine, local residents have already benefited from the restoration project.

In May, a local alewife harvester observed several hundred fish moving up through the culvert and reported that every pool in the new rock weirs was full of fish, and the new nature-like fishway was also full.

Earlier this year, students from the Sumner Pathways program at Sumner Memorial High School learned about the project and visited the restoration site. Later in the spring, when project partners set up a monitoring station to assess returning adult alewives, the students took several turns counting fish. Several volunteers from the Sullivan area pitched in by signing up for half hour-blocks of time and recording the results. The counting helped gauge the effectiveness of the project.

In addition to socioeconomic benefits, this project improved overall river connectivity, ecological function, and productivity in the watershed and downstream through the increased exchange of biota, nutrients, and sediment. Native sea-run fish including Atlantic salmon, alewife, blueback herring, American eel, sea lamprey, and sea-run brook trout all benefited.

The Town of Sullivan recently installed interpretive signs at the Flanders Stream site and at Flanders Pond. The sign explains the importance of the project and highlights the many agencies and organizations that made it possible. GOMCP assisted the town with developing the sign and with assessing, planning, designing, permitting, funding, and implementing this important river restoration project.

A meeting of the alewife monitoring volunteers and other interested parties to review the alewife run will take place on July 17, 2013 at 6 PM at the Sullivan Town Office. The town will also be holding a short dedication ceremony at the site at 5 PM. For more information about these events, contact Gary Edwards at 207-422-0995 or gandjedwards@gwi.net.

 

More details about the project
News article about the project (Bangor Daily News 10/1/2012)
Download “Maine Stream Crossings: New Designs to Restore Continuity”

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News update: St. Croix alewives

Illustration of an alewife.
Alewife illustration. Credit: Duane Raver/USFWS

May 13, 2013

This week marks a big leap in the lives of river herring of the St. Croix River. For the first time in 22 years, alewives will pass the Grand Falls Dam to return to spawn in high-quality lakes upstream.

A new state law, LD 72, An Act to Open the St. Croix River to River Herring, required the removal of a wooden obstruction blocking fish from passing Great Falls Dam.

"Restoration of these fish has been a priority for the Service, beginning with the establishment of Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in 1930s, continuing through the funding of fishways in 1963, and most recently with the monitoring of the fish run at Milltown Dam,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber. "We look forward to more opportunities to advance these efforts.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborates with tribal, federal, state and non-governmental partners to restore the St. Croix River watershed.

Here are links to more information and the latest news coverage on the issue.

Latest articles
Alewives are heading up into the St. Croix River for the first time in 22 years (NRCM 5/13/2013)
Legislators pass bill to reopen river to alewives (Portland Press Herald 4/11/2013)
Maine lawmakers go with alewives' flow (Editorial, Bangor Daily News 4/11/2013)
Legislature sends St. Croix alewife restoration bill to LePage (Bangor Daily News 4/10/2013)

Past articles
Bill to remove St. Croix alewife barriers clears committee hurdle (Bangor Daily News 4/1/2013)
Maine alewives begin a legislative run (Portland Press Herald 4/1/2013)
Alewives'passage in St. Croix hinges on passage of bills in Augusta (Portland Press Herald 3/26/2013)
Competing bills for alewife repopulation toe lines of international jurisdiction (Bangor Daily News 3/23/2013)
Rival measures would restore alewives into the St. Croix (Portland Press Herald 2/17/2013)
Group sues Maine over passage of St. Croix Alewives (Portland Press Herald 10/15/2012)
LePage disagrees with EPA's logic, but supports more river access for alewives (Portland Press Herald 8/8/2012)
EPA overrules Maine on alewives issue (Portland Press Herald 7/10/2012)
The alewives argument (Portland Press Herald 7/8/2012)

More information
Watch a Passamaquoddy Tribe video about the St. Croix alewives (YouTube 5/22/2012)
Download fact sheets about alewives

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Assessing conservation needs and priorities in Timor Leste

Group photo of the DOI-ITAP team.
The Timor Leste International Technical Assistance Program Team; Dave Busch, GS, David Manski, NPS and Stewart Fefer, FWS. Credit: DOI

April 3, 2013

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Project Leader Stewart Fefer participated in an assessment of needs and priorities for USAID/Timor Leste's new five‐year strategic plan as part of a team from the Department of Interior International Technical Assistance Program.

The articles below were published in the April 2013 edition of the Department of Interior Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) monthly newsletter. For more information about DOI-ITAP, visit: http://www.doi.gov/intl/itap/.

Multi-disciplinary team visits Timor Leste’s national park and gateway communities
A DOI‐ITAP team of three senior protected area specialists in climate change and coastal/marine management participated in an assessment of needs and priorities for USAID/Timor Leste's new five‐year strategic plan, which is currently under development. In addition to specialists from USAID's Timor Leste mission, the DOI-ITAP team was joined by other subject matter experts from USAID's offices in Bangkok and Washington. The USAID/DOI‐ITAP assessment team met with a wide range of government officials and other partners in the capital, Dili, and at selected field sites in the country's highlands and coastal zone. Challenges in and around the Nino Konis Santana National Park, such as inadequate staffing, equipment and infrastructure, as well as the lack of tourism marketing and income‐generating opportunities, were discussed.

DOI-ITAP Team Testimonial
Achieving independence in 2002 after years of strife, Timor Leste is one of the world’s newest nations. Our work in this country came on the heels of departing UN peacekeeping forces. Our task was to assist the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in planning for their next five-year cycle by applying knowledge from our DOI bureaus in earth systems science, ecotourism, and biodiversity. The government is hungry for such expertise to improve the lives of its people. While in the capital, Dili, we were warmly received by the leaders of several Timorese government ministries, numerous donor and NGO groups, and the U.S. Ambassador, Judith Fergin (pictured). Field trips to coastal and reef systems and to the central highlands helped us flesh-out sections of the USAID assessment on topics including watershed, marine ecosystem, and protected area management. It was gratifying to hear about the strong reputation our bureaus enjoy in this remote corner of the world. We raised awareness here about the value of the country’s protected areas, the importance of their effective management, and how they could improve the economic well-being of communities and individuals. Upon returning home, we plan to share the lessons learned from this detail with our bureaus. Working on conservation issues in another political and cultural landscape was fascinating and very rewarding for each of us. We hope that our insights and recommendations will help contribute to protecting Timor Leste’s natural resources and cultural heritage.

Aerial photo of rice cultivation in Timor Leste. Scenic photo from Nino Kontis Santana National Park.
Rice cultivation in Timor Leste. Credit: DOI Nino Kontis Santana National Park. Credit: DOI

DOI-ITAP Monthly Newsletter - April 2013 (PDF 326 KB)

DOI-ITAP website

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News update: New England Cottontail

Training volunteers on how to track cottontails.
Cory Stearns (MDIFW) and Lindsey Fenderson (USFWS) train volunteers how to identify New England cottontail tracks in snow.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS

March 31, 2013

In anticipation of the Easter holiday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with journalists throughout New England and New York to promote stories about the important work we and our partners are doing to restore New England cottontails to the northeastern landscape. Over the last few years, GOMCP staff have been contributing to cottontail conservation by funding projects, facilitating meetings, coordinating volunteers, writing outreach plans, conducting surveys, creating habitat, and managing GIS data and mapping.

The following article describes cottontail conservation in Maine, including a land trust volunteer survey effort coordinated by GOMCP, Rachel Carson NWR, and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Deirdre Fleming: With a little help from his friends, here may come Peter Cottontail (Portland Press Herald 3/31/2013)

Download a list of rangewide media coverage (PDF 265 KB). Kudos to our Northeast Office of External Affairs for their excellent work pitching our conservation stories to the media.

See photos of cottontails on Flickr (new!).

For more information about cottontails, visit www.newenglandcottontail.org.

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News from the Penobscot River

TNC's Josh Royte holding a juvenile alewife.
Josh Royte of The Nature Conservancy holds up a juvenile alewife at a project improving fish access. Credit: USFWS

March 6, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently posted two stories about restoring Atlantic salmon and other sea run fish in the Penobscot River watershed. GOMCP has been actively involved in several of the projects that are highlighted in these stories. Click on the links below and learn more about what we do to restore our rivers!

Freeing Maine's Penobscot River (Conserving the Nature of the Northeast 3/6/2013)

We are the Penobscot River (ESA Success Stories 3/1/2013)

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Upper Kennebec and Meduxnekeag stream crossing survey results

Survey team measuring a culvert.
Survey team measuring a culvert. Credit: USFWS

March 1, 2013

Sally Stockwell, Maine Audubon's Director of Conservation, summarizes the results of stream crossing surveys conducted on Northern Maine roads in a recent Maine Audubon blog post.

The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has been leading work in Maine since 2006 to coordinate, survey, and build a statewide database on barriers to fish passage at stream crossings. Jed Wright and Alex Abbott have been at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to prioritize fish passage barriers and stream habitats to strategically direct funding for aquatic restoration projects.

Read Sally's blog

More news and information about road stream crossings
East Branch Penobscot Road Crossing Project (1/3/2013)
Overview of Projects on the East Branch (PDF 2.3 MB)
Stream Restoration Initiative (MPBN 8/31/2012)
GOMCP leads stream-smart road crossing workshops (1/13/2012)
Download "Maine Stream Crossings: New Designs to Restore Continuity"

 

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$1.3 million will conserve coastal wetlands in Casco Bay Estuary and Penobscot River watershed

View of the Penobscot River at the former location of the Great Works dam.
The Penobscot River at the former location of the Great Works dam, which is upstream of the Veazie dam. Credit: Penobscot River Restoration Trust

January 29, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that $1.3 million in grants will go to two critical projects conserving and restoring coastal wetlands and their fish and wildlife habitat in Maine. An additional $579,555 will be provided by partner contributions.

A $1 million grant will help remove Veazie dam and restore nearly 300 acres in the Penobscot River. This large-scale project will benefit native sea-run fish, including endangered Atlantic salmon, and is a joint effort with organizations, government agencies and hydropower companies seeking to restore fisheries while maintaining hydropower production on the largest watershed within Maine.

A $300,000 grant will help the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust and the Maine Coastal Heritage Land Trust protect more than 80 acres of coastal wetlands and uplands, as well as almost 4,000 feet of shoreline within Casco Bay Estuary. The area provides significant habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and shellfish. Both grants are part of $20 million that will fund 24 projects across the nation through the 2013 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.

National news release

Local Coverage
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awards grants for 2 projects (Portland Press Herald Dispatches 2/4)
Grant to preserve Harpswell shorelands (Forecaster 1/30)
Maine nabs $1.3 million in wetlands restoration grants (Portland Press Herald 1/29)
Harpswell Conservation Project Receives $300,000 Coastal Wetlands Grant (HHLT website)

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East Branch Penobscot Road Crossing Project

Outlet of Site 7588 before restoration.
Before: Culverts that are too small or poorly installed can impede fish passage and damage streambeds.
Credit: Alex Abbott/USFWS
 
Outlet of site 7588 after restoration.
After: A waste block bridge eliminates the problem caused by poorly installed or undersized culverts in a cost-effective, durable and safe manner.
Credit: Alex Abbott/USFWS

January 3, 2013

Jed Wright and Alex Abbott continue to work with partners like the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to assess and restore road stream crossings throughout the state of Maine. ASF's Andy Goode recently summarized some recent accomplishments in the Winter 2012-2013 issue of Castings, the newsletter for the Maine Council - Atlantic Salmon Federation, and the Winter 2012 issue of the Atlantic Salmon Journal. The story is reposted here with permission from the author.

Over the past two years, ASF has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct an inventory and assessment of approximately 400 road crossings in the headwaters of the Penobscot River. Originating at the base of Mount Katahdin the East Branch (including its larger tributaries such as the Seboeis and Wassataquoit Streams) spans 1 million acres in the upper Penobscot above Millinocket, Maine. This area is largely owned by a handful of private timber companies and contains part of Baxter State Park. In the summer of 2011, surveys were conducted by field interns from ASF, USFWS and the Nature Conservancy using established barrier inventory and monitoring protocols.

Numerous studies have identified how culverts and dams can disrupt ecological processes, including hydrology, passage of large woody debris and movement of fish. Improperly sized and placed culverts can drastically alter physical and ecological stream conditions. Undersized culverts can restrict stream flows, cause scouring and erosion and restrict animal passage. Perched culverts usually scour the stream bottom at the downstream end and can eliminate or restrict animal passage. Historically in Maine, all too often culverts are undersized with minimal thought given to the biological needs of fish and other organisms.

Data from lower and mid-Penobscot barrier inventories indicates that over 40% of our perennial stream culverts act as severe barriers to fish passage.

Over the winter of 2012, the culvert data was analyzed and prioritized by their condition. A series of GIS maps that combined culvert results, with critical Atlantic salmon, brook trout, and river herring habitat and other data were produced. This past summer, ASF and USFWS met with much of the industrial land base to present the data, held a workshop for foresters, and in October completed three demonstration restoration projects. In each of these projects, an undersized culvert was removed and replaced with an economical waste block bridge. Many of the landowners in the watershed, such as J.D. Irving have been increasingly using waste block bridges as they are inexpensive, allows them to have little to no impact on the stream, and have much greater resilience to flood events which seem to be occurring far more frequently in the past decade. 

Given the large size of the industrial land base and the large number of road crossings, the goal of this project has been to educate and provide both biological and technical information to landowners and stewards so they can improve their road crossing network on their own in the coming years. ASF received funding from the USFWS, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Quimby Family Foundation for this project.

- Andy Goode, Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation

Overview of Projects on the East Branch (PDF 2.3 MB)

Project Partners
Atlantic Salmon Federation
Elliotsville Plantation, Inc
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Natural Resources Conservation Service - Maine
Sewall
The Nature Conservancy

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Last updated: January 28, 2014

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