The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife yesterday ruled that Sappi Fine Paper North America must construct and maintain a fish passage at its Cumberland Mills Dam on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook.
The ruling is part of a proceeding that began in 2006, when the Friends of the Presumpscot River and American Rivers requested a fish passage be constructed at the Cumberland Mills Dam, which is located approximately seven miles upstream from the river's head-of-tide. A U.S. Supreme Court case at the time upheld requirements for fish passages at Sappi's other dams on the river, but since the Cumberland Mills Dam no longer produces power, it was not covered by that Supreme Court decision, according to a press release from the Conservation Law Foundation.
The Presumpscot River, which flows for 25 miles from Sebago Lake to the ocean in Falmouth, is the only major coastal Maine river that lacks fish passage for anadromous or migratory fish -- alewives, American shad and Atlantic salmon -- at the first, most downstream dam on that river, according to the decision by Roland Martin, the commissioner of the IF&W.
Further proceedings are needed to determine the requirements for the design and operation of fish passages at the dam. Donna Cassese, managing director at Sappi's Westbrook paper mill, said in a statement obtained by Mainebiz that Sappi will work with the IF&W on the next stage of the process. "Once these details have been determined, Sappi will proceed accordingly," she said.
Download Commissioner Martin's 13-page decision >>