WASHINGTON — The Maine Department of Marine Resources will receive a multiyear grant of $1,027,754 to support the Penobscot River Restoration project, including removal of the Veazie Dam, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced Thursday. The grant will help restore the historic habitat of the endangered shortnose sturgeon and threatened Atlantic sturgeon as well as help restore 11 species of seagoing fish, including endangered Atlantic salmon.
The first $548,304 of the grant, which was awarded under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Species Recovery Grant Program, is provided for this fiscal year, while the rest is contingent upon future appropriations and project progress. The Species Recovery Grant Program combines conservation efforts from state, tribal, federal and academic institutions to recover endangered and threatened species to the point where they no longer need such protection.
“Mainers understand that, as stewards of our environment, we have an obligation to protect and preserve our natural resources for generations to come,” Collins and King said in a joint statement. “These funds will continue support for the restoration project through the removal of the Veazie Dam, an achievement that will revive important fish populations and revitalize the health of the Penobscot river.”
The Veazie Dam was breached by construction workers on July 22.
The Penobscot had been dammed at Veazie since a dam was erected in 1833 to power a sawmill. The 32-foot-tall Veazie Dam demolished this summer was built 100 years ago to generate electricity.
To compensate for the loss of hydropower that was generated at Veazie, the present power generation partner — Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC — is increasing power production at six remaining dams on the Penobscot.
BDN reporters John Holyoke and Aislinn Sarnacki contributed to this report.