Old News Archive

Governor Meets with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne

September 20, 2006 - TRC

BREWER - Governor John Baldacci today met privately with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. The Governor used the opportunity to urge the Secretary to include funding for the Penobscot River Restoration Project (PRRP) in his Fiscal Year 2008-2009 budgets to help complete the critically important project. The Interior Department is a signatory to the agreement that established this project.

"I am encouraged by my conversation with Secretary Kempthorne," said Governor Baldacci. "He listened attentively to the case for funding for the Penobscot River Restoration Project to move it forward."

The Penobscot River Restoration Project, when completed, will open up five hundred miles of historic spawning habitat for Atlantic salmon and eleven other sea-run fish species by removing two dams and bypassing a third dam on the main stem of the Penobscot River between Veazie and Howland. The project will replace virtually all the lost electricity through enhancements to other dams in the region. The agreement, announced in 2003 by Governor Baldacci and Secretary Kempthorne's predecessor, Gale Norton, has been nationally recognized as a model for restoring fisheries access to historic spawning areas while maintaining energy generation.

The PRRP has raised $25 million in five years to acquire and remove two dams, and to construct a state-of-the-art fish bypass around the dam in Howland. Private fundraising is under way, and the Governor pledged to raise $3-$5 million in state resources. Some federal funds have been committed, but addition federal dollars are needed to complete this important project.

"The project is particularly important to the restoration of the population of Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot, the only river in the United States with any significant population of this endangered species," the Governor told the Secretary. "The five hundred miles of reopened spawning areas will make it possible to produce many naturally raised salmon. This is the single most important action that can be taken in the United States to restore the run of Atlantic salmon."

The Governor has been a tireless advocate for the Penobscot River Restoration Project, and has worked closely with the Penobscot Nation, FPL (the owner of the hydroelectric dams along the Penobscot) and several environmental organizations to negotiate this historic agreement and to bring it to a successful conclusion.

The Governor was pleased that Secretary Kempthorne has come to hear from Maine people on conservation matters. "It's vital for our federal officials to hear from Maine people and organizations," noted the Governor. "This visit will enable the Secretary to learn about important conservation issues in our state. I appreciate the time the Secretary has given me and the people of Maine during this visit."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.