Lauri Munroe-Hultman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 413-588-1005, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susanne Miller, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 207-557-2700, email@example.com
Pete Ruksznis, Maine Department of Marine Resources, 207-941-4460, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Burrows, Atlantic Salmon Federation, 207-415-6637, email@example.com
Terri-Lynn Hall, Town of Charleston, 207-717-6193, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Bernier, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 978-835-8868, email@example.com
Six road-stream crossings in Maine's Penobscot River Watershed have been upgraded to bridges using $440,000 from the Chevron marine oil terminal Natural Resource Damages settlement. The work opens more than 13 stream miles to migratory fish, improves water quality, reduces risks of flooding and road failure, and increases opportunities for recreational fishing.
Local construction crews replaced undersized and poorly functioning culverts at five crossings on Crooked Brook in Charleston and one on Sucker Brook in Hampden. The new crossings span the width of the waterways and are specially designed to restore the natural stream bed.
“These settlement funds will help create a more resilient and healthy Penobscot River watershed, which benefits many communities in Maine,” said Wendi Weber, North Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This work benefits not only natural resources but also people by providing more-passable roads, cleaner water, and better fishing.”
The upgraded crossings allow migratory fish -- including endangered Atlantic salmon, blueback herring, American eel, sea lamprey, and brook trout – to reach important spawning and rearing habitat. Crooked Brook is in the headwaters of Kenduskeag Stream, which is a tributary to the Penobscot River; Sucker Brook feeds directly into the Penobscot. Government and private organizations are working to restore endangered Atlantic salmon throughout the watershed.
“The Atlantic Salmon Federation was thrilled to be a partner in these important projects,” said John R.J. Burrows, executive director of U.S. operations for the organization. “We not only provided great benefits to endangered Atlantic salmon, brook trout, and many other fish and wildlife species, but we also helped a small town permanently fix a number of problematic road-stream crossings in a way that will minimize long-term maintenance and repairs costs and make the freshwater environment more resilient to a rapidly changing climate.”
The new structures will increase water flow, leading to better water quality. Sediment will move downstream; oxygen levels will increase; and water temperatures will decrease. The improved conditions will lead to better wildlife habitat and enhanced fishing opportunities.
“These projects are great examples of how government can be an effective partner to promote environmental programs that support regional and local communities,” said Acting Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Melanie Loyzim. “Here we had federal, state and local government, working with non-profit organizations, local communities, and Maine businesses to successfully contribute to the improvement of water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the Penobscot watershed.”
The crossings in Charleston have experienced regular flooding over the years, disrupting travel and causing costly road repairs. The upgrades will lower the risk of flooding and washouts, making the crossings more resilient to climate change, saving the town money, and reducing disruption for residents.
“At least twice a year, certain crossings completely wash out, making the road impassable,” said Terri-Lynn Hall, member of the Charleston Board of Selectmen. “The environmental and financial cost is astronomical for the town. It would have taken many, many years for the town to complete this work.”
Under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program, federal and state natural resource trustees restore species and habitats injured by oil and hazardous substance spills, at no cost to taxpayers. Financial settlements with responsible parties benefit fish, wildlife, and people.
Numerous oil spills at the former Chevron and Texaco marine oil terminal facilities in Hampden, Maine, injured riverine, wetland, and floodplain habitats; groundwater; and recreational opportunities. In 2016, previous owners and operators of the terminal agreed to pay about $800,000 to fund projects that compensate the public for these injuries.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, representing the Department of the Interior, was the lead settlement trustee for the culvert replacement project. Other trustees are: Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Marine Resources; Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Significant funding for the upgrades also came from a Maine Stream Crossing Upgrade Grant, administered by the Maine DEP. The Town of Charleston, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Maine Audubon also contributed funds.
The Atlantic Salmon Federation oversaw the upgrades. Dirigo Timberlands handled construction in Charleston, while Eurovia was an active partner and completed the work in Hampden.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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