By Tom Johnson

I am writing on behalf of the Maine chapter of Native Fish Coalition to address the hopeful restoration of the Megunticook river. We are a nonpartisan, grassroots, donor-funded, all volunteer 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation, preservation and restoration of wild native fish.

Most, if not all of Megunticook’s native fish come in and out of Camden’s harbor with the desire to swim up the river to spawn and to freely move back and forth from sea water to fresh water. Some of these migratory fish species include river herring (alewife & blueback herring), eels and brook trout. Brook trout that live in both fresh and salt water are often referred to as “salters.” They swim in and out as their needs for food, shelter, and cohabitation dictate. We post informational signs in strategic locations in appropriate watersheds to alert anglers to safe fish handling techniques and the special concerns of brook trout or the needs of other native species. These signs also message the negative impacts that non-native invasive fish species have upon the resident wild native fish.

Camden’s native fish have been documented via video below the Montgomery Falls for a number of years. Even though these fish have not been able to get over the falls for over 150 years, they still have that natural born instinct and desire to do what they were born to do. Two upper river dams and the Montgomery Dam prevent these fish from executing what nature instills within them. Dismantling these dams and installing a fish passage at the Megunticook Lake dam would allow these fish to further their journeys to procreate and help with the entire river restoration.

In the process of stream migration fish provide nutrients into the waters that help with ecology and overall recovery. When the river is free to flow unencumbered, the cleaner and more oxygenated waters will support a countless number of birds, animals, insects, and crustaceans that coexist to help maintain a healthy ecosystem. This flowing water allows for a river to restore itself quite quickly, lessening sedimentation and stimulating beneficial organic vegetation growth and insect reproduction. Many of these positive impacts have been documented in Maine, including the results of the removal of dams on the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. Restored rivers and their accompanying wetlands also help mitigate erosion and flood control. A more beautiful, vibrant river will also improve recreational opportunities for anglers and sojourners and provide for a healthier environment for Camden’s residents.

Flooding.

It is our hope that Camden’s citizens will see the wisdom in restoring the Megunticook River for the health of the river, the habitat, and its wild native fish.

Sincerely,

Tom Johnson
Chair, Maine Native Fish Coalition

For more information, visit NativeFishCoalition.org. Restore Megunticook is written by a diverse group of Camden residents who want to face climate threats responsibly and are committed to a civil community conversation about the ecology of the Megunticook River. Their views do not reflect the editorial position of The Camden Herald.

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