Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
Northeast Region

Restore habitat

Picture of restoration work at Sprague Bridge.
Sprague Bridge. Credit: USFWS

We work with landowners, non-government organizations, town officials and state and federal agencies to support restoration efforts that benefit all native species. We direct our work towards:

  • Coastal wetlands, with emphasis on migratory waterbirds and fish,
  • Rivers and streams, with emphasis on diadromous (searun) fish, including alewife, blueback herring, American shad, American eel, sea lamprey, rainbow smelt, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, searun brook trout, tomcod, striped bass and federally endangered Atlantic salmon, and
  • Coastal nesting islands, with emphasis on seabirds, including species of management concern such as eiders, terns, puffins, alcids, petrels and federally listed roseate terns and recently de-listed bald eagles.
Picture of the Pleasant Lake fishway.
Pleasant Lake fishway. Credit: USFWS

Our staff provides biological and technical expertise in designing, coordinating and implementing restoration activities at salt marshes, on seabird nesting islands and along rivers. We actively coordinate with partners to design, fund, permit, and implement restoration projects. We may also provide matching funds, consult with partners, conduct outreach and offer technical support in developing pre- and post-restoration monitoring protocols. We can also offer GIS and database management services and we can use our motorboat to transport partners to offshore restoration sites.

For more information:

  • Download summary fact sheet on Habitat Restoration in Maine (PDF 137 KB).
  • View a map (PDF 167 KB) identifying habitat restoration project sites in Maine.


Coastal Wetlands

Picture of biologists monitoring a salt marsh restoration site.
Salt marsh monitoring. Credit: USFWS

Working in partnership with other federal and state agencies and non-government organizations, we have restored degraded coastal wetlands in order to improve the biological productivity of salt marshes for migratory waterbirds and native fish in Maine. Over the past decade, our office has been actively involved in partnerships to complete more than 75 projects that have restored an estimated 2,560 acres of coastal wetlands.

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff has provided biological and technical expertise in identifying, planning and designing restoration projects, developing the capacity of locally-based conservation partners, developing permit applications, conducting outreach, and designing and implementing monitoring protocols. Over the last decade, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has provided more than $250,000 in USFWS and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds, quadrupled in value with funds from other federal and state agencies, and non-government partners. Our funding often supports key restoration activities not often funded by other partners (i.e. preliminary feasibility studies, planning and design work, outreach and monitoring).

Picture of an American bittern.
American bittern.
Credit: USFWS

Coastal wetland restoration techniques include a wide array of strategies, including:

  • Removing tidal restrictions, including undersized culverts and dams to increase tidal flow,
  • Breaching old "hay roads" that bisect the marsh to re-establish natural sheet flow of tidal water,
  • Plugging man-made ditches to help restore pool habitat and natural hydrology,
  • Removing fill material from the marsh surface, and
  • Inventorying and removing invasive species, such as Phragmites.

Working with partners, we have implemented major salt marsh restoration projects at the following sites. Post-restoration monitoring work continues at many of these sites, and Phragmites control and monitoring work is ongoing at Scarborough Marsh.

  • Weskeag Marsh, South Thomaston (3 sites)
  • Sprague River, Phippsburg (2 sites)
  • Chauncey Creek, Kittery
  • Wheeler Marsh, Vinalhaven
  • Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough (5 sites).

For more information:

Restoring Rivers and Streams

Picture of alewives.
Alewives. Credit:USFWS

We protect and restore important habitat for all 12 species of native diadromous (searun) fish in Maine. Restoring rivers and increasing populations of native searun fish is important for more than fish. Re-establishing searun fish boosts the biological productivity of the entire river corridor, as well as our estuaries and oceans -- for everything from aquatic insects, mussels, waterbirds and furbearing mammals to commercially and recreationally important fish, seabirds and marine mammals.

In order to protect and restore habitat for diadromous fish, our office provides funding and technical expertise, and we collaborate with dozens of conservation partners, including other USFWS offices, other federal and state agencies, NGOs, private landowners and corporate interests. Over the last decade, our office has been actively involved in partnerships to complete more than 135 on-the-ground projects that benefit diadromous fish, leading to:

  • permanent protection (fee and easement acquisition) of 86,191 acres and 424 miles of riparian habitat of high value to Atlantic salmon and other species, and
  • restoration of more than 10,000 acres and 1,363 river-miles of high value to many species of diadromous fish.
Picture of the Smelt Hill dam removal on the Presumpscot River.
Smelt Hill dam removal Credit: USFWS

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has accessed $11.5 million in USFWS and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds, matched 2:1 with non-federal funds for habitat protection, applied research and restoration projects directly linked to diadromous fish initiatives. Restoration techniques include a wide array of strategies, including:

  • removing tidal restrictions and dams,
  • repairing and renovating old fishways,
  • installing new and effective fishways,
  • controlling erosion from nearby uplands,
  • installing appropriately sized and located culverts and bridges,
  • providing temporary "loaner bridges" to timber operators, and
  • providing support to aquaculture, blueberry and timber
    managers to develop and implement Best Management Practices.
Picture of a biologist assessing a stream.
Stream assessment.
Credit: USFWS


Our staff:

  • provides biological and technical expertise in GIS, fluvial geomorphology and riverine functions, diadromous fisheries ecology,
  • plays multiple roles in coordinating, implementing and monitoring high priority diadromous fish restoration projects, and
  • supports applied research projects that promise to increase our knowledge and enhance the success of future restoration initiatives.

Funding provided through our office often supports key restoration activities not often funded by other partners (i.e. preliminary feasibility studies, planning and design work, outreach, applied research and monitoring).



For more information:

  • Learn about four of our river restoration activities on behalf of diadromous fish.
  • View a slide show highlighting five Atlantic salmon habitat protection and restoration activities.
  • Download our office's summary report on Diadromous Fish Habitat Protection and Restoration Projects in Maine (PDF 1.79 MB). This illustrated 14-page briefing provides an overview of the habitat protection and restoration projects our office has actively participated in accomplishing from 1998 - 2007
  • Learn about funding available and projects completed through the Maine Atlantic Salmon Conservation Fund.
  • Download a fact sheet on Maine's Wild Atlantic Salmon (PDF 112 KB).
  • Download a fact sheet called All About Maine Alewives (PDF 130 KB). This five-page fact sheet describes natural history information relevant for those interested in alewife restoration in Maine‚Äôs lakes and ponds.
  • View a map (PDF 1.06 MB) identifying diadromous fish protection and restoration project sites in Maine.
  • Contact: Chris Meaney, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program (207-781-8364 ext. 12; for more information on Atlantic salmon habitat restoration and protection projects.
  • Contact: Sandra Lary, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program (207-781-8364 ext. 19; for more information on diadromous fish restoration projects.


Last updated: July 3, 2019

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