Breaching of Veazie Dam in 2013. Photo by Meagan Racey/USFWS
Life is gradually returning to the Penobscot River, after 16 years of coordination and committed actions from a diverse group of public and private partners involved in the greatest river restoration project in U.S. history. The Penobscot is Maine's largest river, and with many lakes and multiple tributaries, it offers important habitat for 11 sea-run (migratory) fish species, including the federally endangered Atlantic salmon. Historically, the river boasted bountiful fisheries, but populations have dwindled over the last 200 years with the construction of more than 100 dams and other barriers that crippled the river's course, obstructed migratory paths and diminished water quality. Biologists with our Maine Ecological Services Field Office have worked with a number of public and private partners to address these barriers and reestablish self-sustaining runs of all sea-run fisheries in the watershed, while maintaining important hydropower generation.