I am writing in response to an article by Colin Woodard that ran on Jan. 3, “4 dams, the future of Kennebec fish runs and salmon’s survival at stake in federal licensing battle.”

I support removing the Shawmut Dam from the Kennebec River. The Kennebec River has vital habitat for Atlantic Salmon which are critically endangered. Four dams between Waterville and Skowhegan, including the Shawmut Dam, block fish passage on the Kennebec River to its tributary, the Sandy River, which offers prime spawning habitat for Atlantic Salmon. Dam removal is not new to Maine, and its success has been proven.

The Edwards Dam was removed from the Kennebec River over 20 years ago and the Fort Halifax Dam was removed from the Sebasticook River in Winslow in 2008, and in the years since the population of sea-run fish in the newly freed section of the Kennebec River has flourished. More than five million alewives passed the Benton fish lift this year. It is time to add to this success by removing the Shawmut Dam.

One of my favorite Maine pastimes is canoeing with my husband. On a recent paddle on the Kennebec, we canoed between Sidney and Augusta. As we were nearing the end of our paddle, we saw a stunning sturgeon as it leapt into the air before disappearing back into the river. It was the highlight of the trip and a reminder of the abundant life in the water around us.

A large part of what makes being out on Maine’s rivers so enjoyable is the pristine habitat. The relatively small amount of hydro power created by this dam is not worth the habitat loss it creates. Removing the Shawmut Dam would be the beginning of restored habitat and the people and fish of Maine would benefit.


Sarah Cotton


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