When asked what the Penobscot River Restoration Project meant in terms of the future of hydroelectric development in the state of Maine and in the United States, Laura Rose Day, executive director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, hoped it signaled an age of enlightenment. Discussing the future re licensing of dams across the country, she predicts that this case will make a profound difference in the way people think: "I think people will start asking more questions regarding all aspects of the dam during re licensing instead of just rubber stamping the documents."
The Project has deep connections that run in the culture and history of the river. Because the strong dependence of the river by not only the Native Americans, but by the Colonizing Peoples, there is a passionate struggle for control and regulation of the water. To understand the project, a comprehension must be reached regarding the past, and more current history of the Penobscot. The watersheds, upper and lower, will also be addressed. Both have very unique characteristics and are very valuable to various parties for their individual reasons. The major environmental environmental concerns driving the project are numerous. The Penobscot River Restoration Project is one of rehabilitation goals, and so the environmental motives are consequential to the understanding of the motives of the Trust.
The Future of an Old River:
This case is more then an example of how to dodge the legislative process; it also serves as what could be the last great push for Atlantic Salmon restoration on the part of the United States. Though 90% of all salmon who return to New England return to the Penboscot, the populations of migrating fish are slowly dwindling. Should this effort prove unsuccessful, it is unlikely for the nation to devote much more time or money into the research and labor that comes with fish rescue.
Even with this exorbitant amount of pressure to succeed, the Trust aims high.
- To restore the historic ocean-river connection of more the 1000 miles of river habitat.
- This will aide in restoring all of the natural habitat of the striped bass, sturgeon and the rainbow smelt.
- The access of hundreds of miles of rivers and lakes will be improved for the future use of shad, alewives, blueback herring and American eel.
- The Trust hopes that all these efforts increase the alewife run from a few thousand to a few million, the American shad run from almost zero to one and a half million and the Atlantic Salmon run from less the 1,000 to 10 to 20 thousand. The fish runs should be improved because of the currents restored to the natural flow rate and chemistry.
- The nutrients from sea-run fish are then carried farther upstream. Nutrients that flow down stream, naturally and from man-made sources will no longer be filtered through the dams, and be able to enter the Penobscot Bay.
- This will improve the livelihood of many commercial fish in the Gulf of Maine and water fowl.
- It is an improvement for fowl and other animals (as well as humans) upstream, as sea-run fish are less likely to be contaminated.
- One benefit that will occur, without a doubt, is the promise of a free flowing river for the Penobscot tribe and the ability to reclaim their fishing rights.
The likelihood of dam development on Maine rivers in the future is slim, however, because of the current energy crisis engineers are looking for answers. One possibility lies in tidal power. Hoping to generate hydroelectric power by utilizing currents from the ocean, the Passamaquody Tidal Projecthas been proposed and reworked several times. Anders Nordblom explains how the future development of Maine power generation most likely lies in tidal power.