A Chance for Atlantic Salmon to Thrive in Maine’s Kennebec River

Former Sandy River dam site in Norridgewock, Maine.
The former Sandy River dam site in Norridgewock, Maine.

(This is a repost from my 2021 blog post on EcoPhotography.com.)

In 2006, a dam was removed on the above stretch of the Sandy River in Norridgewock, Maine, opening up miles of prime endangered Atlantic Salmon spawning habitat. But downstream of the Sandy are four dams on the Kennebec River with no suitable fish passage, preventing efforts to restore fish to their historic spawning grounds. In 2021, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers, and Natural Resources Council of Mainesued the operator of these dams, Brookfield, for its repeated violations of the Endangered Species Act

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Monkman_MEKVS_D10020-950x633.jpg
The third dam on the Kennebec River is the Shawmut Dam in Fairfield, Maine.

In the summer of 2021, the Natural Resources Council of Maine hired me to produce a video explaining the benefit of dam removal:

In addition to the above video, I also edited together 6 short testimonial videos from Mainers who live, work, and play on and around the Kennebec. Here is one of those videos:

This project coincided with work I was doing for Upstream on their efforts to free another Kennebec tributary for migratory fish, Cobbossee Stream, which I wrote about in a previous post: Keystone: Voices for the little fish. | (ecophotography.com). On both projects, I received some excellent assistance from my colleague Ryan Smith, seen below in the bow of my canoe while we paddled the Kennebec at sunset.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Monkman_MEKVR_D10028.jpg
Canoeing on the Kennebec River (near its confluence with the Sandy River) in Norridgewock, Maine.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Monkman_MEKVS_D10039-950x633.jpg
The Kennebec River and the Weston Dam in downtown Skowhegan, Maine.

I support removing these dams and restoring passage for anadromous fish like salmon, alewives, sturgeon, and striped bass. Restoring these connections in nature benefits us all.