In an otherwise excellent article about the spectacular alewife migration in the Sebasticook River, the newspaper misses an important point in local history when it refers to the removal of the Edwards Dam in 1999 “after some lobbying by environmental groups.” That is like referring to World War II as a spat among several nations.

“Lobbying” suggests that dam removal was a legislative issue. The Legislature had nothing to do with it.

The dam at Augusta was licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, and the term of the dam license had expired.

Local environmental organizations formed the Kennebec Coalition, and opposed relicensing by demonstrating the high cost of providing adequate fish passage, and the benefits of dam removal and re-opening the river to migratory fish, such as alewives.

Advocating for dam removal was not popular in central Maine.

The city of Augusta, through the City Council, aligned itself with the dam owner and opposed dam removal.

Only when Gov. Angus King announced publicly that he supported removal of the Edwards Dam did we see the tide begin to turn in our favor. The battle before a federal administrative agency and finding the funding for dam removal took nearly 10 years. No “lobbying” was involved.

Jon LundHallowell

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