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October 12, 2010
Commissioner Approves Cumberland Mills Dam Fishway
Augusta, Maine – Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin has approved a plan for the construction of a fish passage at the Cumberland Mills Dam in Westbrook.
The plan is the result of more than three years of negotiations with S.D. Warren Co. d/b/a Sappi Fine Paper North America, owner of the dam, Friends of the Presumpscot River, American Rivers, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.
Commissioner Martin’s order marks the conclusion of proceedings that began with a petition from the Friends of the Presumpscot River and American Rivers, two groups seeking the restoration of anadromous or migratory fish resources on the Presumpscot River.
On June 29, 2009, Commissioner Martin determined that a fish passage should be constructed and maintained at the Cumberland Mills Dam in order to conserve, develop or restore fish resources, specifically alewife, blueback herring, American shad and American eel, in substantial numbers to the Presumpscot River watershed. It was determined that habitat in the Presumpscot River watershed above Cumberland Mills Dam is sufficient and suitable to support commercial or recreational fishing.
On Oct. 5, Commissioner Martin approved a joint proposal submitted by all parties that includes: fishway design, a fishway and channel monitoring and maintenance plan, an effectiveness testing plan, and a construction schedule.
“The Presumpscot River is the only major coastal Maine river that does not have a fish passage at the first downstream dam situated on it, and that soon will change,” said Commissioner Martin. “I congratulate everyone involved in these proceedings for working together on a comprehensive strategy to provide safe and effective passage for fish on this waterway. Your efforts will be immeasurable.”
Sappi Fine Paper North America is looking ahead to fulfilling the project.
“On behalf of Sappi Fine Paper North America, we are pleased that the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has approved the unified solution that we reached with the state agencies and non-government organizations for the design of one fishway at the Cumberland Mills Dam, which could meet all parties’ needs,” said Donna Cassese, Managing Director, Westbrook Mill. “We will now turn our attention to the construction of the fishway.”
A spokesperson for the Friends of the Presumpscot River said the passageway will have long-term benefits by bringing fish populations upstream and attracting wildlife such as eagles, osprey.
American Rivers, which has worked in partnership with FOPR for over a decade to restore the Presumpscot River, applauded the effort.
“Fish passage on the Presumpscot will help bring this important river back to life and make this river even more of a community resource and a recreational destination,” said Robbin Marks for American Rivers.
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