Historic Deal Will Help Atlantic Salmon in Maine

In an unprecedented move intended to save plummeting populations of threatened Atlantic salmon, a coalition of environmental groups, government agencies, a Native American tribe, and a power company yesterday announced a plan to take down dams along the Penobscot River, Maine’s longest waterway. The project calls for raising $25 million from private and public sources over the next five years to purchase three dams from the utility PPL Corp. Two of the dams on the eastern section on the river will be taken down, and a bypass will be built at a third to enable fish to swim past it. The effort will benefit 10 other species of migratory fish as well as Atlantic salmon. “It’s a win-win situation,” said PPL Vice President Dennis Murphy, and enviros seemed to agree. The deal couldn’t come soon enough: The Penobscot’s annual run of salmon has fallen to fewer than 1,000, down from as many as 70,000 in the early 19th century.