The Kennebec River is home to the last of the wild Atlantic salmon in the United States. There are four hydroelectric dams along the river, owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, that have long been a topic of contention between environmentalists and energy providers. On Monday, the federal government issued a ruling that paves the way for the dams to stay in place.
Despite concerns from environmental groups citing the importance of removing the dams and allowing for the restoration of a healthy Kennebec River ecosystem, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that the dams are not likely to be a significant threat to the continued existence of the Atlantic salmon as long as the appropriate conservation measures are implemented. These measures will require significant investment from Brookfield, amounting to over $100 million, in upgrading the existing facilities to improve fish passages.
The upgrades will allow the salmon to swim up the Kennebec River, from their ocean habitats to freshwater inland habitats, for the first time in over a century. The NOAA will oversee the project to ensure that the dams comply with their expectations for improved fish passage. According to a spokesperson for Brookfield, David Heidrich, this decision is an important milestone in ensuring that Brookfield can continue to support Maine’s clean energy future and traditional industries along the lower Kennebec River.
The Atlantic salmon population in the US has dwindled to mere hundreds over the past few decades due to factors like overfishing and habitat loss. Consequently, they have been listed under the Endangered Species Act for over two decades. The conservationists and Native American tribes have voiced their discontentment in the past, claiming that Brookfield has not fulfilled its obligations to protect the remaining salmon.
The decision to keep the dams in place has garnered criticism from environmentalists who believe that the dams are putting the future of the Atlantic salmon at risk. The Kennebec Coalition, for instance, an alliance of several environmental groups supporting dam removal, argues that the dams pose a significant threat to the salmon’s existence, creating hazardous conditions and blocking access to key spawning habitats. They maintain that removing the dams offers the best chance to prevent the Atlantic salmon from becoming extinct, while also supporting the restoration of a vibrant, healthy Kennebec River ecosystem.
To conclude, the ruling of the federal government that keeps the Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners’ dams in place along the Kennebec River has raised some concerns. Environmentalists believe that the dams threaten the future of the salmon and other vulnerable species of fish. However, the NOAA has stated that the presence of the dams is not likely to be a significant threat provided the necessary conservation measures are implemented. The upgrades will allow the salmon to swim up the Kennebec River from the ocean to freshwater habitats for the first time in over a century. Despite the disagreement, the decision by the government is an important milestone in ensuring the sustainability of Maine’s clean energy future and traditional industries.#wild #Atlantic #salmon #U.S #coexist #dams #feds