we maximize our impact!
Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve,
restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their
watersheds. We cannot hope to accomplish this locally here in
Maine without interacting
strongly with the State and Federal infrastructures.
Permits and licenses for dams, State regulations, and many other actions are open processes where public comment is sought. Sebago TU members need to be part of that process. Over the years, we have been a strong voice and need to continue to be so when comment is sought by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Board of Environmental Protection, and various legislative committees. For many actions, public input is minimal. When we attend hearings, submit testimony, and communicate with our legislative representatives, every interaction -- e-mail, letter, written testamony -- does make a difference. If you don't know who represents you, find out at www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm
The chapter is a strong force in Maine's
environmental community. We achieve this by working cooperatively with Maine Council of Trout Unlimited and other members of Maine's conservation community. These include the Natural Resources
Council of Maine (NRCM), Maine Rivers, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), Maine Audubon Society, Sierra
Club, Saco River Salmon Club, Friends of the Presumpscot, Presumpscot River Watch,
County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other non-government
conservation organizations. We try to align our goals closely with
those of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. We work
closely with other government and government associated agencies as
well including the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Gulf of Maine Coastal
Program, Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Casco Bay Estuary
Described below are issues of recent interest. Some represent victories for Maine's environment, others are battles still to be fought.
Metallic mining is Maine’s conservation issue of the decade. The rules that were rushed through the legislature and through rule-making late in 2013 resurfaced in 2015, and in another bill in 2016
Although the legislation will seek to cover all cases, earlier bills were pushed through late last year in response to J. D. Irving’s stated desire to construct an open pit mine at Bald Mountain in Central Aroostook County at the headwaters of the Fish River. Irving (yes, same company as the gas stations) is a privately-owned Canadian conglomerate with extensive holdings - and Maine’s largest land owner.
Mineral deposits are located in places that could impact some of Maine’s premier waters. Besides the Fish and Aroostook Rivers that are threatened at their headwaters by Irving’s Bald Mountain Project proposal that has driven the proposed rule changes, the Magalloway and Cupsuptic, the Dead River, and the West Branch Pleasant River would be at risk as well due to the nearby location of similar deposits.
The deposits they are looking to mine are know as volcanic sulfide deposits. These are some of the most toxic materials on the planet: if anything should remain buried, this is it. Although rich in metals including copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver, they are dangerous to disturb. It’s a double whammy: the sulfides themselves turn into sulfuric acid when exposed to water resulting in acid mine drainage AMD (the picture below shows what that can look like), many of the metals like arsenic lead, and mercury are toxic in themselves. Once in the soil, these metals continue to do damage until they permute into other elements over millions of years - they make the tar sands that residents banned from being pumped through South Portland look like a slurpee. To make matters worse, the Bald Mountain vicinity is already high in arsenic, the water acidic naturally and because of acid rain.
Finally in 2017, LD 820 passed that will make mining metallic sulfides economically unfeasible in Maine.
It took literally years to do, but our actions DID make a diffference!
The Mousam is currently the largest river in southern Maine with absolutely NO fish passage provisions. The lowest three dams on the Mousam in Kennebunk: Kesslen, Twine Mill and Dane-Perkins, needed FERC relicensing by 2022. The trustees for Kennebunk Light and Power District voted to surrender the license in 2016 because the operation only supplies about 2% of the power KLPD sells, and the hydro facility could be replaced by a small solar farm that would make power more economically.
The Kennebec Mousam River Alliance has taken the lead. Click here to read about it.
Now the Town of Kennebunk will decide if it wants to pay to establish fish passage and maintain the dams and their impoundments to safisfy the approximately 20 true abutters and the others whom they have attracted to their cause.
Please support dam removal by talking to your friends in Kennebunk. Removal will open up almost seven miles of good riffle and pool trout fishing habitat. Free the Mousam!
The Town of Yarmouth owns the lower dams on the Royal River. The fish ladders don't work. The worst thing that you can do ecologically to a coastal river is to cut it off at the head of tide as these dams do. Last year, the town council voted not to discuss dam removal. A new group has been formed to speak for the river with the motto: "Healthy River, Healthy Community" - the Royal River Alliance. Sebago Chapter is a full partner in the alliance.
The results of a new study commissioned by TNC will be out in mid-2017. If it confirms earlier studies, it will recommend removal of the Bridge Street Dam, that would open the potential riffle and pool habitat above it up to US Route 1 to trout fishing. We also expect Maine DEP to issue an information in 2017 that will confirm that the Bridge Street Dam can be safely removed without releasing sediments with contaminant levels that would necessitate changes to the ways the harbor is dredged, and the dredged sediments are disposed of.
If you are a Yarmouth resident, or fish the Royal River or Casco Bay, please express your support for fish passage on the Royal to members of the Yarmouth Town Council. Free the Royal!
Mill Dam Application
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection denied the Scribner’s Mill Dam Application on April 3, 2014. Although the rejection letter had been long in coming, its contents were well worth the wait.
The letter reviews the criteria for approval of a dam application. There are eight criteria - the Scribner’s Mill application failed to meet six of them meeting only the criteria to “maintain adequate traffic movement.” The remaining criteria was “not applicable.”
Scribner’s Mill Preservation, Inc. could still appeal the denial to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, and if they do, we would need to raise our voices again, but with so little positive to build on that prospect has never been less likely. Their only remaining option is the court system, and that's an expensive one.
Last year, the MDEP processing official said: “Thanks for the thorough comments and also please pass the word to your members that I’ve received their numerous emails with comments ranging from brief to lengthy and detailed. In sum, the numerous messages have succeeded in relaying the public’s great concern about the potential of the project to impact the fishery on the Crooked River.” Our voices were heard, and they did make a difference. Those of you who have read the denial letter may have recognized some of your own ideas, or even your own words.
The Crooked River continues to run free and supply nearly all the wild landlocked Atlantic salmon in Sebago Lake - some 40 to 60% in any given year. Sebago Chapter is dedicated to maintaining and restoring the habitat that could make the lake's landlocked Atlantic salmon a wild population once again some day.