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July 9, 2024

Downeast Salmon Federation receives $9.1M grant for dam removal in Cherryfield

Photo / Courtesy, Downeast Salmon Federation The Cherryfield Ice Dam will be replaced by a nature-like fishway.

The Downeast Salmon Federation will use a $9.1 million federal grant to remove a dam on the Narraguagus River, in the Washington County town of Cherryfield.

The dam will be replaced with a nature-like fishway, which will allow improved passage for endangered Atlantic salmon and other fish to return to their spawning and rearing grounds, the organization said in a news release.

The Narraguagus River is considered a waterway of national significance, with some of the highest quality habitat for Atlantic salmon, according to the federation.

"It will essentially look like a string of rapids in the river and allow for the passage of all sea-run fish species,” said Charlie Foster, associate director of the Downeast Salmon Federation. “It will also keep flood protection intact and allow for the continued harvest of alewives in that location."

The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act and is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Narraguagus grant was among seven recent awards for fish passage improvements throughout the state, totaling $70.9 million, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dam in 1961 to reduce damages from flooding caused by ice jams. The federation had been discussing its removal with town officials for several years.

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