Eugenie Francine’s Nov. 29 op-ed piece on removal of two Royal River dams (“Maine Voices: Royal River’s journey to future should begin with removal of lower dam”) makes the case for a free-flowing river eloquently, but dismisses the concerns of the advocates for the impoundment above the upper dam and for the harbor.

The users of the harbor depend on regular dredging. Public funds dredge the harbor and channel, the marinas dredge under their slips.

Ms. Francine takes lightly the prospect of silt washing into the harbor. There are many tens of thousands of cubic yards of muck behind the dams.

No one knows how quickly and how much of this silt will make its way to the harbor, but no one doubts it will do so sooner or later. The cost of removing this silt from the harbor must be included in any removal plan.

Prior to dredging, sediments are tested for contaminants to determine where they can safely be disposed. High levels of mercury and pyrene (a carcinogen) have been found in the river sediment. Removal of these dams will change the flow patterns of the river.

Whether these changes will wash toxins into, and spread them throughout, the harbor and estuary, no one knows. Unfortunately, should it happen, disposal of dredging spoils could become prohibitively expensive or impossible. That could mean the end of the harbor and the businesses that depend on it. Shellfish harvesters are surely concerned as well.

Ms. Francine says, “Consultants have found that dam removal will not add toxins to the harbor; the Royal River Conservation Trust believes these findings should be rigorously confirmed.”

At the moment, these toxins are concentrated in a relatively small area. The only rigorous way to confirm they will not be added to the harbor is to remove them before removing these dams.

Win Fowler

Portland

Royal River changes could restore salmon population

A lot is happening in the Royal River watershed, so we were pleased to read Eugenie Francine’s Nov. 29 op-ed on the Royal River dams and to learn that the Royal River Conservation Trust has come on board for supporting dam removal (“Maine Voices: Royal River’s journey to future should begin with removal of lower dam”).

We wanted to make two points of clarification.

First: Atlantic salmon were indeed once common in the Royal. The 1935 Report on the Fishes of New England states: “Atlantic salmon were common in the Royal River until 1800, and the last salmon was taken around 1853.”

Second: The removal of the Randall Mills Dam in Pownal, which was alluded to in the column, was managed and funded by our organizations.

Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited led the project, using funds provided by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Trout Unlimited’s national Embrace-a-Stream Program, the Sebago Chapter of TU and the Maine Trout Unlimited Council.

We could not have asked for a better landowner to work with than Fred Fauver, who serves on the board of the Royal River Conservation Trust.

The Royal is a gem of a river. The streams, rivers and lakes and adjacent lands in the watershed provide opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing and other outdoor pursuits just minutes from Portland.

Many groups, including the conservation trust and ours, are working in ways large and small to protect and restore the Royal River. We hope to see the town of Yarmouth and other government and conservation organizations commit to further steps to restore the river and its historic Atlantic salmon run.

Curtis Bohlen, Ph.D.

director, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership

Portland

Steve Heinz

Randall Mill Dam removal project coordinator,

Sebago TU Chapter

Cumberland Foreside

Try to think of nutrition when feeding the hungry

Usually, when people think of hunger, the image of starving children in Africa comes to some minds. However, even in a First World country with a rampant obesity problem such as the United States of America, hunger is still a great concern.

Both adults and children go hungry every day in the United States. The cheapest food available to those with little money is often high-calorie foods from fast-food establishments that may not have much, if any, nutritional value. Even though many of these people are overweight, they are still malnourished and going hungry.

Foods provided at food pantries for the hungry are often canned items that also provide next to no nutritional value.

This holiday season, when people are remembering those who often go without proper nutrition, please consider giving fresh fruits and vegetables as well as healthy proteins in order to ensure, at least for a while, that underprivileged individuals are not only fed but also nourished in order to be happy and healthy.

Margaret Scott

Portland 

Thanks to South Portland board for moratorium on tar sands oil

I am very pleased that the South Portland Planning Board voted recently to support the moratorium on waterfront development.

If the moratorium is enacted by the City Council Dec. 16, the community will have six months to consider how to keep tar sands oil out of South Portland while protecting a constructive business climate in the city.

There is an important link between the tar sands issue in South Portland and preserving the quality of water in the Sebago Lake watershed for more than 200,000 households in the Portland area: If South Portland puts a stopper in the tar sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Casco Bay port at South Portland, there will be no tar sands threat to Sebago Lake or the Crooked River.

For that possibility, we all owe the citizens of South Portland and their elected officials a great vote of thanks!

Eliot Stanley

board member, Sebago Lake Anglers Association

Portland

Headline used broad brush to describe Christian views

Letter writer Tanya Hanger very appropriately addressed her comments (Nov. 26) to “many conservative Christians.” However, your headline writer wrote: “Appeal to Christians: Love your lesbian neighbors, too.”

I am tired of such offensive headlines where all Christians are lumped together. You insult me and my faith in doing this.

I cannot tell you how unpleasant such lazy writing is. Please pay closer attention to what you say.

Sallie Smith

Freeport