The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is required to issue a report soon on Brookfield Power’s plan to facilitate the restoration of salmon to the Kennebec River as its hydro dams are up for review.

Brookfield’s fish passage model has not worked, as evidenced by no more than 25 salmon returned to the Kennebec in 2022, compared to some 1,300 returning to the Penobscot River in the same year. Why is there a disparity of returning salmon to the two rivers? Three dams have been removed or bypassed on the Penobscot, while a fourth has been equipped with a state-of-the-art fish passage system. Brookfield’s four dams on the Kennebec block salmon from their spawning grounds. How would you like to have four bank vault doors between you and your honeymoon suite and not know the combinations?

Fishermen pay thousands to fish for salmon in Canadian provinces and Norway, Iceland, even Russia. I caught my first salmon on the Penobscot in 1975. I can’t fish for salmon now, as they are listed as an endangered species in the U.S. By ensuring that Brookfield adopts a fish passage system on the Kennebec that works, Maine has a chance to change that.

I urge Mainers to contact our senators and congressional representatives and ask that they reach out to NOAA and ask it to do the right thing: to base its report on science rather than politics.

Eugene McKenna

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