NOAA Fisheries is awarding nearly $1.2 million in funding for four partners to continue ongoing projects restoring Atlantic salmon habitat in the Gulf of Maine region. The Gulf of Maine’s distinct population segment of Atlantic salmon is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and is one of nine NOAA Species in the Spotlight.
Atlantic salmon are an iconic species of the Northeast. They once returned to the most significant rivers along the northeastern United States by the hundreds of thousands. Now, they only return in small numbers to rivers in central and eastern Maine. These populations comprise the Gulf of Maine DPS.
Degraded habitat is one of the most significant obstacles facing the recovery of threatened and endangered species like Atlantic salmon. Habitat restoration helps repair areas destroyed by development, blocked by dams, or otherwise subjected to habitat destruction. Through funding and technical assistance, NOAA supports projects restoring the habitats threatened and endangered species need to recover.
Funding will support ongoing restoration. This funding will support four ongoing, multi-year habitat restoration efforts:
Restore Habitat Access
The Atlantic Salmon Federation will implement five projects to restore access to Atlantic salmon spawning and rearing habitats in the Kennebec River watershed. They will also conduct a fish passage feasibility study at the Chesterville Wildlife Management Area Dam on Little Norridgewock Stream. ($50,000).
Improving Fish Passage
Project SHARE will replace undersized culverts at 13 sites, connecting habitat for Atlantic salmon across the Dennys, Machias, Pleasant, Union, and Narraguagus River watersheds. They will also conduct fish passage feasibility studies at the Great Works Dam and Marion Falls Fishway. Funding will also support freshwater habitat restoration work in the Narraguagus River watershed. ($264,000).
Restoring and Reconnecting Habitat
The Nature Conservancy will complete the final designs to remove Guilford Dam and restore the adjacent floodplain, which will reconnect the habitat for Atlantic salmon in the Piscataquis River watershed. They will also restore access to high-quality habitat by improving fish passage at three high-priority road crossings over streams. ($605,000).
Fish Passage Feasibility Studies
The Downeast Salmon Federation will support fish passage feasibility studies at the Cherryfield Ice Control Dam on the Narraguagus River and the Gardner Lake Dam on the East Machias River to support future habitat restoration in these watersheds. Funding will also support fish passage improvements at the Gardner Lake Dam. ($277,000).