Penobscot Nation welcomes start to $62M dam removal project

The Penobscot Nation of Maine welcomed the start of a $62 million dam removal project that will help restore fish runs to the Penobscot River.

Butch Phillips, an elder, led a smudging ceremony at the Great Works Dam. Kirk Francis, the tribe's chief, gave remarks along with other dignitaries.

“Today signifies the most important conservation project in our 10,000-year history on this great river that we share a name with, and that has provided for our very existence,” Francis said, The New York Times reported.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar attended the ceremony. He said the project was the result of cooperation between tribal, state and federal governments.

"Through a historic partnership that exemplifies President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, we are reconnecting 1,000 miles of river, restoring vital habitat for fish and wildlife, expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation, and supporting energy production, jobs and economic growth in communities throughout Maine," Salazar said in a press release.

The removal of the Great Works Dam and other dams on the river will last through 2013 and 2014.

Get the Story:
Dam Removal to Help Restore Spawning Grounds (The New York Times 6/12)
'A great day' as dam removal begins (The Portland Press Herald 6/12)

Some Opinions:
OUR OPINION: Dam removal event celebratory, except for LePage (The Kennebec Journal 6/11)
Amy Souers Kober: A New Chapter For The Penobscot River (American Rivers 6/11)
David Ferris: Hat Trick On The Penobscot River: Fewer Dams, Same Energy, More Fish (Forbes 6/11)

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