Summer dredging sparks outcry in Popham Beach

Posted May 23, 2011, at 5:17 a.m.

BATH, Maine — Summer dredging aimed at helping Navy warships safely navigate the Kennebec River has sparked an outcry from Popham Beach area fishermen, business owners and others.

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking permits to remove 70,000 cubic yards of silt in August. Officials say it’s necessary to ensure that the 510-foot Spruance doesn’t run aground when it leaves Bath Iron Works this fall.

But opponents say the plan would harm the endangered short-nosed sturgeon, Atlantic salmon and other wildlife, and jeopardize the livelihoods of clammers and lobstermen.

Opponents suggested delaying part of the work until the winter, but the manager of the dredging project tells the Portland Press Herald that the work must be done this summer because the corps can’t afford a return trip.