Each year, the River Network, a national organization focused on river restoration and river communities, recognizes five individuals from throughout North America with their River Hero Award. River Network’s River Heroes Award celebrates rivers and those who protect them by recognizing and honoring those who provide leadership and inspiration.

This year two individuals in Maine received the Hero awards at the national River Rally held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this month, according to a news release from Downeast Salmon Federation and Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

Laura Rose Day, of Hallowell, Maine, executive director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, and Dwayne Shaw, of Franklin, Maine, director of the Downeast Salmon Federation, were recognized at the event, which attracted more than 450 people from throughout the United States and Canada.

Although Shaw and Rose Day focus their work in different regions of the state, both were lauded for engaging people from many different perspectives in work to improve the health of Maine’s rivers. “People around the country increasingly realize that it is going to take all of us to restore and protect waterways that can sustain people, fisheries, wildlife and culture. It is an honor that Maine can help lead that discussion.” said Rose Day in the release.

Shaw, whose work is focused on the rivers of eastern Maine, pointed to the culture of volunteerism in Maine said in the release, “with public participation and persistence in protecting water and fisheries resources in Maine we have achieved a lot over the past several decades. The people in Maine rely on fisheries and clean water and we work very hard to sustain our way of life.”

Both agree that Maine’s tremendous potential to reverse declines in fisheries abundance is within reach if we continue to invest in creative solutions and bring people together to develop meaningful results.

Rose Day’s organization helps lead the Penobscot River Restoration Project, an historic private-public partnership which aims to restore healthy runs of migratory fish to the Penobscot River system by opening migration corridors through a combination of dam removals and improved fish passage while also maintaining power generation. This summer, several national-class paddling races will take place on the newly free-flowing lower river.

Shaw and his organization operate two wild salmon conservation hatcheries in abandoned and retrofitted hydroelectric facilities and his work focuses on community participation in management of all wild river fisheries in eastern Maine.