Atlantic salmon such as these are among the sea-run species that will be impacted by projects to be funded with $3.7 million in grants provided by the Maine Department of Marine Resources under the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. Credit: Courtesy of Nick Hawkins / Atlantic Salmon Federation

There continues to be a groundswell of financial support behind fisheries and conservation projects in and around Maine rivers, lakes and ponds.

The latest funding is a $3.7 million grant from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan earmarked to support efforts to restore habitat for sea-run fisheries in Maine. Gov. Janet Mills announced the funding Wednesday.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has provided funding to 12 different projects that will help build fishways, remove outdated structures and improve habitat in rivers and streams and along the coast. The work will help Atlantic salmon, American shad, blueback herring and American eel regain access to habitat while enabling millions of sea-run alewives to return to lakes and ponds.

“These projects will have widespread and long lasting benefits for these communities and for Maine’s vital sea-run species that support our state’s economy and sustain the health of our marine and inland ecosystems,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher.

atlantic salmon population growth

The state’s action will help it access millions of additional dollars in federal funding provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Supported projects include $1,021,354 for Alden Labs, working with Woodland Pulp, to design four fishways on the St. Croix River to improve access to more than 600 miles of sea-run fish habitat and aid migration of some 20 million river herring each year.

The money complements more than $20 million in grants to DMR from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for work on the St. Croix.

A total of $550,000 was provided for the Atlantic Salmon Federation to construct a fishway and repair the dam on Branch Pond in Palermo, work supported by $1.5 million in matching funds raised by the federation, Midcoast Conservancy and the Branch Pond Lake Association.

Wiscasset will receive $500,000 to replace the tidal crossing over Old Ferry Marsh, with an additional $1.9 million in matching funds raised by the town.

Other initiatives to be funded are $350,000 for Project SHARE to re-establish Atlantic salmon habitat and provide fish passage restoration projects for the Pleasant River and Cathance Stream, and $354,400 for Bradley to remove one dam, repair another and upgrade other structures to improve alewife passage and lake level consistency in Chemo Pond.

fish passage restoration

The funding also includes $250,000 for the Atlantic Salmon Federation and Farmington to support removal of the Walton Mills Dam on Temple Stream in Farmington. That project, completed over the summer, opened more than 50 miles of Atlantic salmon habitat and other species. The Atlantic Salmon Federation raised $2.5 million toward that effort.

Also earmarked is $250,000 for Maine Rivers to design fish passage projects on Washington Pond in Washington, and Webber Pond and Three Mile Pond in Vassalboro, and to procure the rights to remove two obsolete dams in the Androscoggin and Kennebec watersheds.

Other projects include:

  • $164,550 for Bucksport to replace two culverts, one at the crossing of Jacob Buck Pond Road and Stubbs Brook, and one at the crossing of Bucksmills Road and Whites Brook. Bucksport matched the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funding with an additional $250,000 raised from other sources to complete the projects in August 2023.
  • $132,634 for the Downeast Salmon Federation to improve fish passage into Meddybemps Lake by removing an obsolete structure and designing a new nature-like fishway.
  • $75,000 for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to develop two nature-like fishways at Seal Cove Pond on Mount Desert Island. The project, completed in August 2023, was supported by a match of $300,000 raised by the trust.
  • $75,000 for the Atlantic Salmon Federation to design fish passage at the former Mill Street Dam on the Sabattus River in Lisbon.

“Restoration projects like these improve critical infrastructure, public safety, flood protection and ecotourism, while enhancing valuable opportunities for commercial and recreational fishing,” Mills said. “These projects will provide long-term economic and environmental benefits to Maine’s communities.”

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...