Community Developed Solution Benefiting Humans, Fish
New England Conservation Director
(207) 373-0700, (207) 841-7529 (cell)
10/29/2002 -- Union, Maine -- Today Trout Unlimited and the Sennebec Pond Association, joined by federal agencies and corporate donors, dedicated a new roughened ramp fish passage that allowed the removal of Sennebec Dam and restoration of 17 miles of the St. George River. The ceremony was a celebration of the collaboration between environmental and community interests. The St. George River Restoration Project removed the failing Sennebec Dam and replaced it with a rock ramp fishway at the natural outlet of Sennebec Pond. A rock ramp is a natural-looking fishway that allows fish to navigate upstream and downstream through a series of pools and riffles.
“This project was achieved through hard work, information, and mutual respect for potentially competing interests,” said Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director for Trout Unlimited. “As a result, 17 miles of the St. George River have been reopened for alewives, shad, salmon, and other fish.”
“We’re thrilled with the outcome,” said Susan Harris, President of the Sennebec Pond Association. “We don’t have to worry about the pond level dropping in dry summers.”
The St. George River Restoration Project was funded with restoration grants from three federal agencies: NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Services Gulf of Maine Program, and the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Georges River Chapter of TU raised $71,000 in cash donations to match federal contributions. The largest private grant came from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.
"Enhancing and restoring riverine and coastal environments is the key focus of the Maine CWRP. We are pleased to have joined with Trout Unlimited as well as state and federal agencies on the Sennebec Dam removal to restore critical water bodies and fish passages.” said Maine CWRP Advisory Board Chair Patrick J. Hester, senior vice president and general counsel of Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, the corporate leader of the partnership.
Sennebec Dam, located on the St. George River, was built in 1916 and blocked passage to spawning grounds in over half the watershed for Atlantic salmon, alewife, shad, eel and blueback herring. The dam was the only barrier to anadromous species in a watershed that supports one of the largest runs of alewife in Maine.
“These historic fish runs support a local commercial fishery for alewife, supply abundant lobster bait, provide recreational fisheries, and contribute forage for other species in the river and the Gulf of Maine. The result of the project will be increased populations of alewife, American shad and Atlantic Salmon that will enhance recreational and commercial fisheries, together with maintaining the water level of Sennebec Pond for all its residents,” said Patricia Kurkul, Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
“Installing a roughened ramp while removing the dam made sense for both local residents and migratory fish. Conservation can pay. This project was half as expensive as repairing the dam and building a traditional fish ladder, ” added Sherry Morgan, Assistant Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The project restored access to 17 miles of available fish habitat on the St. George River, while maintaining water levels in Sennebec Pond. Removing the dam increased safety below the dam, while the roughened ramp reduced maintenance costs and maintained the recreational value of Sennebec Pond.
In addition to raising cash, Trout Unlimited volunteers contributed thousands of hours of volunteer time to the project. “This project wouldn’t have happened without Tom Whiting and Jack Tibbetts. Both of them put hundreds of hours into this project, over a period of more than three years,” said Jeff Reardon. “We also appreciate the cash donations that the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program, local donors, and our members have made.”
More information on the St. George River Restoration Project, including project photos, is available at www.tu.org/sennebec.
Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. TU accomplishes this mission on local, state and national levels with an extensive and dedicated volunteer network. The George’s River Chapter has spearheaded the Sennebec Dam Project.
The Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP) is a voluntary public-private partnership providing businesses with the opportunity to work with federal and state agencies and environmental organizations to restore critically important wetlands, river systems and other aquatic habitats in Maine. Partners in the Maine CWRP include Bangor Hydro-Electric; Bronson Communications; Casco Bay Energy Company, L.L.C.; Cianbro Corp.; Curtis Thaxter Stevens Broder & Micoleau, LLC; Ducks Unlimited; Duke Engineering & Services; Jacques Whitford Company; Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, L.L.C.; Mitchell & Sudbay; Natural Resources Council of Maine; Normandeau Associates; PNGTS Operating Co., LLC; S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc.; TRC Environmental Corporation; Verizon; and Verrill & Dana.
NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program, a financial and technical assistance program within the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation, promotes strong partnerships at the national, regional and local level to fund grassroots, community-based habitat restoration projects. The NOAA-funded projects provide strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components that offer educational and social benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological benefits for fishery resources. For more information on NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Program, please visit: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/
The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, established in 1991 as part of a nationwide network of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program offices, focuses on protecting economically, recreationally, and ecologically important coastal fish and wildlife habitat through partnerships. Using existing scientific data along with biological expertise and state-of-the-art computer mapping and database management capabilities, Gulf of Maine Program biologists analyze data, identify and map important fish and wildlife habitat, and recommend and implement habitat protection and restoration measures. By sharing biological information, offering technical assistance and identifying funding opportunities, Gulf of Maine Program works with interested parties -- federal and state agencies, town officials, statewide conservation groups, local land trusts and watershed associations, angling clubs, industry representatives and willing landowners -- to protect the tremendous coastal fish and wildlife resources in the Gulf of Maine watershed.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is a branch of the US Department of Agriculture. NRCS works with private landowners to provide technical assistance to help people conserve, improve and sustain our natural resources.
For more information: Susan Harris, Sennebec Pond Association (207) 785-3430 or firstname.lastname@example.org