Cooperatove Conservation Project

Penobscot River Restoration Project

Collaborative Solutions Within Federal Energy Regulatory Process

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Maine

Project Summary: Project removed barriers to migration of Atlantic salmon and other fish on Maine’s Penobscot River while maintaining energy generating capacity.
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James Neptune of the Penobscot Indian Nation watches an eagle as the Penobscot River Restoration Project is announced. (Photo by Bangor Daily News, used with permission, 2003)
Resource Challenge
The Penobscot River, New England’s second largest river system, drains 8,570 square miles.  The river’s rich traditions date back to the Penobscot Indians, who first fished the area thousands of years ago.
Dam construction began as early as 1834, and continued with the construction of modern power dams.  The effect on sea-run fisheries was drastic, severely limiting the spawning of anadromous fish.  When PPL Corporation-owned dams came up for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) re-licensing, federal and state agencies, tribes, conservation organizations, and PPL formed the Penobscot River Restoration Project to collaborate on how best to restore sea-run fisheries.
In 2004, the partnership fi led its agreement with FERC, laying out  its roadmap for the river and its fi sheries. By removing, bypassing,  or improving passage at three dams, the agreement would eliminate  major barriers to fi sh migration, increasing annual Atlantic salmon and  American shad runs. The proposed roadmap would:
  • Restore viable populations of native sea-run fish, improving access to more than 500 miles of historic habitat.
  • Renew opportunities for the Penobscot Indian Nation to exercise sustenance fishing rights.
  • Create new opportunities for tourism, business, and communities. 
  • Resolve longstanding disputes and avoid future uncertainties about river and hydropower regulation.
The USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Tribal Incentive Program gave $200,000 to the Penobscot Indian Nation to help  support the Tribe’s role in the Penobscot partnership. Congress  appropriated approximately $1 million in fi scal year 2005 through  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for  the project.


Examples of Key Partners
FWS, NOAA, USDI National Park Service, USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs, PPL Corporation, State of Maine, Penobscot River Restoration Trust, Penobscot Indian Nation, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited.
Results and Accomplishments
FERC approved the initial phase of the proposed Penobscot project in April 2005.  Phase one agreements include:
  •  The Penobscot River Restoration Trust (PRRT) was granted  an option to purchase three dams from PPL Corporation and to remove the two dams closest to the sea; PPL will transfer licenses to PRRT upon purchase.
  • The PRRT, after FWS approval, will decommission the third dam and construct a fish bypass around it.
  • PPL Corporation will increase generation at six existing dams, maintaining more than 90 percent of current generating capacity. 
  • PPL Corporation will improve fish passage at four additional dams.

The Penobscot River Restoration Project is restoring Atlantic salmon runs while maintaining renewable energy resources and community needs.

Project Contact
Laura Rose Day
Executive Director
Penobscot River Restoration Trust

(207) 232-5976


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