About 10 months ago, while he and officials from other stakeholder groups celebrated a fundraising milestone, Andrew Goode explained the strategies that had worked so well over the previous five years would have to be supplemented with another approach.
Twenty-five million dollars had been raised by supporters of the Penobscot River Restoration Project. Another $25 million was needed.
“The first part of the private fundraising had to do with just major donors,” the vice president of U.S. operations for the Atlantic Salmon Federation said at an August press event and celebration. “That $10 million [in private donations] was a small number of large gifts. I think in this second phase of this project, it’s going to have to be a large number of small gifts. It is going to be a different approach.”
Welcome to phase two.
On Wednesday Goode said the ASF Maine Council, along with the Veazie, Eddington and Penobscot salmon clubs, are about halfway toward another goal as they try to raise $150,000 over three years. That money will be given to the Penobscot River Restoration Trust and used to remove two dams and create fish passage at another.
The initial $25 million will be used to purchase the dams after essential permits are obtained.
And while the trust is still forging relationships with large donors and seeking federal money — $15 million in federal funds was committed in the first phase of fundraising — the Maine Council and salmon club collaboration represents the kind of different approach Goode had predicted.
“It’s sort of a combination of bake sales and everything else,” Goode said. “It’s actual people writing outright donation checks, [but also] raffles, special dinners [and other fund-raising methods].”
Bamboo fly rods, paintings and a peapod boat are among the products that have been — or will be — raffled or sold to generate funds for the ongoing effort, Goode said.
The effort is targeting individuals in the Penobscot watershed area, including salmon club members and their friends and acquaintances, Goode said.
“It’s totally a volunteer-driven local fundraising effort,” Goode said. “These gifts range from $25 to $5,000.”
Goode said larger gifts will remain essential, but the generosity of those who live in the communities near the Penobscot River sends a valuable message.
“I think a way to leverage the public dollars is to show broad local support,” Goode said. “So these small local gifts are going to go a long way toward leveraging larger gifts. [Potential large donors and federal partners] want to see the grassroots support.”
One recent raffle raised nearly $7,000 toward the local fundraising effort. Bill Meyer of Wells won the grand prize, a Tom Hennessey painting, “Dawn Distraction.” A custom-made Martin Tool Works salmon reel went to Steve Forrest of Frankfort.
In addition, the Atlantic Salmon Federation Maine Council will hold a fundraising dinner Oct. 24 in Bangor.
Goode said the efforts of the local salmon clubs have been invaluable, as members have embraced the fundraising project.
“It’s pretty ambitious. If you look at any of the salmon clubs or the Maine Council, the last time they really rallied behind something [on this scale] was the Basin Mills project, which was 15 or 20 years ago,” Goode said. “The local fishermen, local sportsmen have really been the river keepers for the Penobscot and this is another example of them doing that.”
If you’re interested in donating money or helping out, you can contact the ASF Maine Council at 725-2833.
Fish advisory released
Recreational anglers who spend time on Maine’s coastal waters have long enjoyed taking a few fish home for a feed.
Some might want to reconsider or limit that practice, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The agency on Wednesday updated a fish consumption advisory for two marine species that are popular among the state’s saltwater anglers.
Targeted are striped bass and large bluefish. According to the Maine CDC, those fish should not be eaten by those determined to be potentially more susceptible to the toxic effects of polychlorinated biphenyls.
That group includes pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and children under the age of 8, the Maine CDC says.
In addition, nobody should be eating more than four meals of striped bass or large bluefish per year.
PCBs are thought to affect the endocrine system and brain development, and have been shown to cause cancer in animal studies, according to Maine CDC.
Maine is one of seven eastern states that has issued limits on fish consumption, according to a Maine CDC press release. The other states: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
The advisories come as a result of a 2008 multistate report that studied PCB content in stripers and bluefish from Maine to Georgia.
“Fortunately, there are many other marine and freshwater species that consumers can eat more frequently and that have health benefits,” Dr. Dora Anne Mills, state health officer and Maine CDC director said in the news release.
Among the common fish species that are low in PCBs are Atlantic mackerel, cod, haddock, hake, pollock, shellfish and all parts of the lobster except the tomalley.