On Sept. 13, Maine announced $3.7 million in funding from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to restore access to habitat for the state’s sea-run fish species. The investment is to also leverage tens of millions of dollars in additional federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources awarded funding to 12 projects that include the construction of fishways, removal of obsolete structures, and enhancement of in-stream or coastal habitats. The projects include $550,000 for the Atlantic Salmon Federation to construct a fishway and repair the dam on Branch Pond in Palermo, and money to design fish passage projects on Washington Pond in Washington.
The 12 projects are to improve fish passage for American shad, blueback herring, American eel, and Atlantic salmon into hundreds of miles of historic habitats and produce millions of alewives through improved passage into lakes and ponds.
“Restoration projects like these improve critical infrastructure, public safety, flood protection and ecotourism, while enhancing valuable opportunities for commercial and recreational fishing,” said Governor Janet Mills, in a news release. “These projects will provide long term economic and environmental benefits to Maine’s communities and are yet another example of my Administration’s commitment to protecting our environment and our fisheries, which are a vital part of our state’s heritage.”
“These projects will have widespread and long lasting benefits for these communities and for Maine’s vital sea run species that support our state’s economy and sustain the health of our marine and inland ecosystems,” said Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources.
Funded projects include:
- $132,634 for the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) to improve fish passage into Meddybemps Lake by removing an obsolete structure and designing a new nature-like fishway. DSF is also designing fish passage in the Machias River watershed – together, these projects could restore more than 1.5 million alewives to these systems annually. $140,000 has also been raised by DSF as matching funds to support the work.
- $250,000 for the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and the Town of Farmington to support removal of the Walton Mills Dam on Temple Stream in Farmington. This project, completed in summer 2023, opened over 50 miles of habitat for critically endangered Atlantic salmon and other sea-run species. An additional $2.5 million was raised by ASF to support the project.
- $75,000 for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) to develop two nature-like fishways at Seal Cove Pond on Mount Desert Island. The project, completed in August 2023, was supported by a match of $300,000 raised by MCHT.
- $164,550 for the Town of Bucksport to replace two culverts; one at the crossing of Jacob Buck Pond Road and Stubbs Brook, and one at the crossing of Bucksmills Road and Whites Brook. Bucksport matched the MJRP funding with an additional $250,000 raised from other sources to complete the projects in August 2023.
- $354,400 for the Town of Bradley to remove one dam, repair another dam and improve other structures to improve alewife passage and lake level consistency in Chemo Pond. These projects also benefitted the Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley. The Town of Bradley raised an additional $50,000 in matching funds to support completion of the project.
- $5,000 for the Town of Phippsburg to design and build fish passage improvements at the Center Pond fishway in Phippsburg.
- $350,000 for Project SHARE to restore in-stream Atlantic salmon habitat and design fish passage restoration projects for the Pleasant River and Cathance Stream.
Project SHARE and DMR also installed a new bridge at the Pleasant River Lake outlet. The work will be completed in late 2023 with support from an additional $50,000 in matching funds raised by Project SHARE.
- $75,000 for the ASF to design fish passage at the former Mill Street Dam on the Sabattus River in Lisbon.
- $250,000 for Maine Rivers to design fish passage projects on Washington Pond in Washington, and Webber Pond and Three Mile Pond in Vassalboro, and to secure the rights to remove two obsolete dams in the Androscoggin and Kennebec watersheds. The project will be supported by a match of $15,000 raised by Maine Rivers.
- $550,000 for the ASF to construct a fishway and repair the dam on Branch Pond in Palermo. The project is supported by $1.5 million in matching funds raised by ASF, Midcoast Conservancy, and the Branch Pond Lake Association.
- $500,000 for the town of Wiscasset to replace the tidal crossing over Old Ferry Marsh, with an additional $1,900,000 in matching funds raised by Wiscasset.
- $1,021,354 for Alden Labs to design four fishways on the St. Croix River in collaboration with Woodland Pulp, which will improve access to over 600 miles of habitat for sea run fish and will support migration of up to 20 million river herring annually. The project will enable additional restoration work on the St. Croix funded by over $20 million in grants to DMR from NOAA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is Governor Mills’ plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.
For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.