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Dam removal begins on the Penobscot!

I have to write about this momentous event — deconstruction began on one of the first of several dams to be either removed or retrofitted for fish passage on the Penobscot River in Maine.

For me, this is such a cool thing because I remember first learning about the possibility for dam removal on the Penobscot when I was an undergrad. Then, I went to work for American Rivers, who was one of the NGOs in the coalition working to remove the dams on the Penobscot. At that time, they were still trying to raise enough money to buy the dams from the owners, so that they could then be removed. Then, I left American Rivers, and didn’t follow the process too closely. So, when I heard the news that dam removal would begin this week, it made me super excited.

It’s especially cool since right now I’m doing some research into the passage of the Federal (Water) Power Act, which was the federal legislation meant to guide water power development in this country. One of the critical things that some people fought for was to give the public the ability to change the conditions of a hydropower license, or even decide not to renew the license at the end of its 50 year life, if the public interest warranted such action. I don’t know all the details for the Penobscot (in particular, I don’t know whether they’re licensed under FERC or not), but it’s so cool to see the public changing its mind and removing these dams, after realizing they do more harm than good.

Here is some good info and pictures about the removal:

Dam Removal to Help Restore Spawning Grounds 

Photos from American Rivers

Dam Removal to Begin on Maine’s Penobscot River

Saving a River, and Its Species

Anyways, I would say you should try to go check out the dam removal if you don’t live that far from Maine! I know that includes me — hopefully I’ll have a chance to see it.


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