Of Edwards Dam Removal
thing about the Kennebec is that it’s so diverse.
We saw uncountable numbers of brown trout, we caught alewives, as
many small mouth bass as we wanted and an unbelievable number of stripers.
We also saw eagles and osprey.
With its gravel bars, ledges and waterfalls, the river is
Bob Dionne, Aardvark Outfitters
have returned to Waterville and
Winslow, 18 miles upstream from the former Edwards Dam. State fisheries
biologists estimate the number of alewives below Waterville to be nearly
the migration of alewives is blocked by upstream dams on the main stem of
the Kennebec at Waterville and on a major tributary of the Kennebec the
Sebasticook at Fort Halifax in Winslow, they can not yet swim to upstream
ponds to spawn again. As a
temporary measure they are trapped using a suction pump in Winslow at the
Fort Halifax dam and trucked to their native ponds.
Permanent fish passage must be provided at Fort Halifax in 2003 and
temporary fish passage must be provide at Lockwood on the Kennebec by
2006. This year the
Department of Marine Resources and Florida Power and Light have pumped
over 130,000 alewives at Fort Halifax (last year at Edwards 80,000
alewives were tramped, trucked and released).
bass, a fisherman’s favorite, were caught in Waterville last
fall and have returned again this spring.
shad have been caught in Waterville this spring, another first.
Shad will be trapped and trucked to a hatchery in Maine, which is working
to maximize shad production for release back into the river. Young shad
will released into the river to help restore the species to historic
floaters, a fresh water mussel,
know that alewives are passing and release their spawn that the alewives
carry up river attached to their gills.
eagles, osprey, blue herons and cormorants have been observed
catching fish all along the river.
has Significantly Improved
below Class C to Class B. Before
Edwards Dam was removed, the impoundment above the dam could not meet the
minimum water quality standards and could not begin to support a healthy
river ecosystem. Last fall
with the removal of Edwards dam the quality improved dramatically to meet
the higher standard of class B. The
river has been officially reclassified to class B to reflect the
improvement in river health.
Canaries of the River Return in Force.
Bottom dwelling organisms are used by the Maine Department
of Environmental Protection to gauge the health of a river.
When the counts of these organisms are low it indicates that the
ecosystem itself is suffering, just as a dying canary used to indicate
that the coal mine environment was unhealthy.
Before the Edwards removal the counts were so low that there were
barely enough organisms to perform an analysis (40-50 organisms per
sample). In September the count was already up to nearly 2000
organisms or nearly 50 times the numbers that existed before the dam.
and Anglers alike will welcome the dramatic increase in Mayflies and
species, rarely seen in samples before the removal of Edwards,
have dramatically increased in numbers.
Not only have the numbers of organisms increased but also the
diversity of organisms has doubled.
and anglers have returned
to the area in large numbers. Last
summer the newly restored river was used extensively by the public to
fish, canoe, birdwatch, and generally enjoy the river.
are greening with native grasses, shrubs and other vegetation. Many
people feared that muddy banks, exposed by lower water levels after the
dam removal, would be unsightly and deter recreational use.
Instead, natural vegetation grew back on the banks quite rapidly,
making a boat trip down the river quite scenic and providing habitat for
birds, small mammals and other wildlife.
enjoy a new boat launch at Sidney, which the State rebuilt to meet
the new needs of river users and is open for business. The river is still
available for recreational use during the spring, summer and fall.
natural water levels have revealed rapids, such as Six-Mile Falls, and
many small islands have reappeared.
These features, buried for 160 years and known only in the history
books, make the trip down the river varied and interesting.
They also provide varied habitat for fish, who utilize new
channels, riffles and pools, and water birds that search the island
habitat that has emerged for food.
Being Reborn Along With the River
Augusta a Capital Riverfront Improvement District was formed by
legislative act to “protect the scenic character of the Kennebec River
corridor while providing continued public access and an opportunity for
community and economic development..."
for a park where Edwards mill once stood are well under way.
Current proposals envision the Edwards mill site as a passive recreational
park. The park will honor the
history of the site while celebrating the rebirth of the river.
along the Kennebec are planning new river celebrations and renewing old
first Voice of the Kennebec festival is planned for early June in
Waterville, with food, paddles and bike trips along the river.
Whatever Celebration in Augusta, is a sometimes tradition on the Kennebec
that will make a special effort to celebrate the river this year.
“To help share in the celebration of the opening of the Kennebec we
would like to invite you to canoe or kayak with us on July 2nd
from Fort Halifax to Fort Western,” said Jay Adams Fort Western’s
Director and Curator. Anyone that arrives by boat to Fort Western that day
will get in for free.
services and local businesses are looking forward to a good year
on the river. Jim Thibodeau, a registered Maine Guide from Waterville, said, “I am
looking forward to a great summer season fishing this section of the
progress being made on almost every front, it has been an extremely
positive year for the Kennebec. Why
not get out and see the progress for yourself!