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.