Jan. 26, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arlington, Va. – Trout Unlimited applauded today’s announcement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget will include $10 million for Maine’s Penobscot River Restoration Project.
“We are delighted with NOAA’s funding proposal,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs for Trout Unlimited. “It is bold. It is timely. I cannot think of a single better way for any federal agency to spend $10 million to support fish and wildlife.”
The Penobscot River is the engine of Atlantic salmon production in New England and the best opportunity to prevent extirpation of Atlantic salmon in the US. In 2006, 90% of Atlantic salmon returning to New England rivers returned to the Penobscot.
The Penobscot River project is one the most innovative restoration projects in the nation. It will remove two dams and decommission a third, while maintaining virtually all hydropower generation on the river. This effort will improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of river and stream habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon and ten other species of sea-run fish.
“The collaboration among conservation groups, federal and state government, the Penobscot Indian Nation and dam-owner PPL is unprecedented. This is a win-win project for the State of Maine and all of New England,” explained Maine TU volunteer Greg Ponte. “Restoration of the river will produce increased fishing opportunities, which in turn will boost the economies of communities along the river.”
The total project cost is up to $60 million. Based on an agreement between PPL Corporation and a broad coalition of partners, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust holds an option to purchase and decommission three dams. To date, the Penobscot River Restoration Project has raised about $12 million through a private capital campaign and federal government appropriations. If enacted by Congress this year, the additional $10 million is likely to catalyze additional funding and pave the way for project implementation.
“We thank the Bush Administration for its commitment to the Penobscot,” said Moyer. “We also recognize the unwavering efforts and support of Senators Snowe and Collins, and Representatives Michaud and Allen.”
Today’s announcement was made by Undersecretary Lautenbacher, Chief of NOAA. It is one of the highlights of NOAA’s budget, which will be unveiled in its entirety on February 5th with the rest of the Administration’s proposal for the federal government.
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Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 160,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.