Impacts of Dams in Maine on Fisheries Resources

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Impacts of Dams in Maine on Fisheries Resources by Jolaine Moreland:

Great Works Dam (Penobscot, 2013) Impacts of Dams in Maine on Fisheries Resources by Jolaine Moreland

Area of Study:

Kennebec River Edwards Dam Presumpscot River Smelt Hill Dam Cumberland Mills Dam Penobscot River Great Works Dam Veazie Dam Area of Study

Kennebec River:

170 miles long, originating in Moosehead Lake and traveling to the Gulf of Maine in the Atlantic Ocean an important transportation corridor for log driving to bring wooden logs and pulpwood from interior forests to sawmills and paper mills built to use water power Important spawning ground for anadromous fish Kennebec River

Edwards Dam:

Hydroelectric dam, built in 1837 Constructed of timber and concrete, extended 917 feet across the river and 24 feet high brought urbanization, pollution, overconsumption, and waste products to the river blocked spawning runs of fish and limited aeration of the river and the downstream flow of sediments and nutrients Removed in 1999 Edwards Dam

Edwards Dam :

Edwards Dam Before After

Presumpscot River:

25 miles long, flows through the southern part of Maine, dropping approximately 270 feet as it descends from Sebago Lake and makes its way to Casco Bay near Portland The site of Maine’s first pulp mill, first hydroelectric project, only significant canal, and largest gunpowder mill The first dam was constructed at Smelt Hill in 1732 Supported American shad, Atlantic salmon, alewives, the blue back herring, striped bass, brook trout as well as both landlocked and sea run Atlantic salmon Presumpscot River

Smelt Hill Dam:

Hydroelectric dam, built in 1735 Constructed of stone-filled timber cribs and located at a naturally occurring bedrock outcrop, extended 151 feet long, 31 feet wide and 15 feet high Resulted in anadromous fish species not being able to freely bypass the dam Removed in 2003 Smelt Hill Dam

Smelt Hill Dam:

Smelt Hill Dam Smelt Hill Dam return of the falls after removal

Cumberland Mills Dam:

Hydroelectric dam, built in 1896 Constructed of two sections made of granite and wood, extending 380 feet in length and is 12 feet high The dam prevents anadromous fish from returning upstream to spawn Sappi Fine Paper North America, dam owner, has been ordered to build a fishway at the dam to be completed this spring Cumberland Mills Dam

Cumberland Mills Dam:

Cumberland Mills Dam

Penobscot River:

109 miles long running through all of Maine best known for its large historic salmon run of 50,000 or more adults and its much smaller present-day run, which is the largest Atlantic salmon run remaining in the United States Penobscot River

Great Works Dam:

Hydroelectric dam, built in 1887 Constructed of timber, concrete, and cribwork Located between Old Town and Bradley, Maine, extended 1,000 feet in length and was 19 feet high Drastically cut the number of sea run fish that make it north of Bangor on the Penobscot Removed in 2012 Great Works Dam

Great Works Dam:

Great Works Dam Before After

Veazie Dam:

Hydroelectric dam, built in 1912 Constructed of concrete and rubber flashboards Located between Veazie and Eddington in Penobscot County, Maine and is 902 feet long and 25 feet high Also affects the passage of sea-run fish Scheduled to be removed this spring, which will restore about 225 acres of in-stream habitat and about 65 acres of streamside habitat Veazie Dam

Veazie Dam:

Veazie Dam

Species Impacted by Dams:

Species Impacted by Dams 10 Anadromous Fish Species Native to Maine: alewife striped bass Atlantic salmon rainbow smelt blueback herring American shad sea lamprey Atlantic sturgeon shortnose sturgeon b rook trout Alewife Atlantic salmon

Learning Points:

The many rivers and ponds of Maine harbor spawning runs of anadromous species. Dams alter stream habitat and the distribution and abundance of stream fishes by disrupting hydrology, temperature regime and habitat connectivity. The dams that have been removed in Maine, have helped to restore the rivers back to their natural setting Learning Points


Crane, J. (2009). ‘‘Setting the river free’’: The removal of the Edwards dam and the restoration of the Kennebec River. Water History , 1, 131–148. Doi : 10.1007/s12685-009-0007-2. Retrieved from Dudley, R.W. (1999). Riverbed-sediment mapping in the Edwards Dam impoundment on the Kennebec River, Maine by use of geophysical techniques . Retrieved from Landers, J. (2007). Fish passage to be restored to much of Maine’s Presumpscot . Civil Engineering, 77(10), 29-30. Penobscot River Restoration Trust. (2013). The River . Retrieved from Presumpscot River Plan Steering Committee. (2002). Fisheries conditions, issues and options for the Presumpscot River . Retrieved from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE]. (2003). Presumpscot River aquatic habitat restoration project Smelt Dam removal . Retrieved from References

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