May 24, 2018
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Dover-Foxcroft opposes Howland Dam bypass

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Selectmen do not support the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s proposal to install a bypass channel around the Howland Dam.

Town officials voted Tuesday to sign a resolution against the proposal, similar to action taken by Millinocket and East Millinocket officials.

“The likelihood of pike being introduced into the fisheries in this area as well as the fact that they’d be removing two hydroelectric sources,” prompted the board’s vote, Dover-Foxcroft Town Manager Jack Clukey said Tuesday.

The bypass channel is part of a series of changes planned by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust to restore species of fish that move from salt water to fresh water to spawn. The trust wants the fish restored to the Penobscot River without sacrificing energy production.

Membership of the trust, a nonprofit organization, includes the Penobscot Nation and several conservation groups, including Maine Audubon and Trout Unlimited. The trust is working in collaboration with state and federal agencies and hydropower company PPL, formerly Pennsylvania Power and Light.

Other elements of the trust’s plan to restore Atlantic salmon, river herring and sturgeon, among other sea species, to the Penobscot watershed include removal of the Veazie Dam and the Great Works Dam — the first two dams on the Penobscot River — and improvement of the fish passage at the Milford Dam in Old Town.

Opponents of the creation of a fishery bypass in Howland say the move could allow northern pike — an invasive, non-native species that preys on soft-grade fish such as salmon, trout and suckers — to invade about 40 percent of the Piscataquis River drainage. Where pike have been introduced, they have decimated cold-water fishing, they claim.

Ray B. Owen Jr. of Orono, a former commissioner of the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a proponent of the plan, said in an essay published in the Bangor Daily News earlier this month that “one of the best ways to reduce any negative impacts of these invasive fish is to restore the abundance of native fish in the river through the full implementation of the Penobscot project.”

Owen said he does not believe the project “should be jeopardized by the threat of invasive species. Where appropriate, safeguards can be put in place as the risk is further assessed.”

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