AP

US could require steps for dams to save last Atlantic salmon

Jul 24, 2022, 9:05 PM | Updated: Jul 25, 2022, 10:36 am

FILE - Wild Atlantic salmon swim at a fish hatchery in Orland, Maine, in this undated file photo. T...

FILE - Wild Atlantic salmon swim at a fish hatchery in Orland, Maine, in this undated file photo. The federal government is conducting a review of four dams on the Kennebec River in Maine that could result in a lifeline for the last wild Atlantic salmon in the United States. (AP Photo/Michael C. York, File)

(AP Photo/Michael C. York, File)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government is conducting a review of four dams on a Maine river that could result in a lifeline for the last wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S.

The last of the wild salmon live in a group of rivers in Maine and have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 2000. One of the rivers is the Kennebec River, where Brookfield Renewable U.S. owns dams.

Brookfield wants to amend federal licenses for four dams and receive a new 40-year operating license for one of them. That requires a review of the dams’ impacts on salmon, said representatives for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The federal review could result in mitigation measures Brookfield would need to take to protect the salmon, NOAA officials said. The review comes as the Biden administration is also eyeing changes to dams in other parts of the country. The administration released reports earlier this month that said removing dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington may be needed to adequately restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest.

In Maine, Brookfield views the review as a step toward building new fish passages on the Kennebec, which will help the fish migrate and spawn, said David Heidrich, a spokesperson for the company. Brookfield plans to spend at least $40 million on structural modifications to its projects, and will incorporate changes required by the federal review, Heidrich said.

The review “is a critical regulatory approval that moves Brookfield one step closer to the construction and operation of new, state-of-art fishways on the Lower Kennebec,” he said.

The last wild Atlantic salmon have long been a focus of conservation advocates in New England. Environmental groups have raised alarms that counters found fewer fish on the Penobscot River in 2021 than in any year since 2016.

The fish were once abundant in Maine rivers and beyond, but factors such as dams, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution dramatically reduced their populations. In May, Brookfield said it would use seasonal shutdown procedures for the Kennebec River dams to help the salmon migrate.

The best way to help the salmon population recover would be to remove the dams altogether, said Nick Bennett, staff scientist with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. That would open up access to the Sandy River, a tributary of the Kennebec that is prime salmon habitat, he said.

“If we could get those four dams removed, the best big chunk of Atlantic salmon spawning and rearing habitat, which is the Sandy River and its tributaries, would be direct free swim from the ocean,” Bennett said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

3 days ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

4 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

5 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

5 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

7 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

7 days ago

US could require steps for dams to save last Atlantic salmon