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Dam Removals Boost Atlantic Salmon Populations in Maine

May 23, 2024

Habitat restoration efforts on the Penobscot River in Maine will help Atlantic salmon population recover and support ancestral traditions of the Penobscot Nation.

A fish leaping above fast-moving water Atlantic salmon. Credit: National Park Service.

The Penobscot River in Maine is one of the last places in the United States where you can still find Atlantic salmon. It's also the historic home of the Penobscot Nation—the Indigenous people who have watched as industrialization polluted the watershed and caused fish populations to plummet. Now, new federal funding is supercharging efforts to restore the river and watershed. 

In this new episode, we'll hear from Matthew Bernier, a marine habitat resource specialist in the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center in the Office of Habitat Conservation, and Chuck Loring Jr., a member of the Penobscot Nation and its director of Natural Resources. The Penobscot Nation is a longtime partner with NOAA Fisheries and is one of the recipients of funding opportunities made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. They'll discuss projects that include removing dams, replacing undersized culverts with fish-friendly road crossings like bridges, building fish ways, and restoring coastal habitats such as salt marshes. The funding will also restore historic habitat and increase the resiliency of communities to climate change effects.