Megunticook River Restoration & Climate Resilience Project
The Megunticook River Restoration and Climate Resilience Project is a new example of how Midcoast Conservancy is helping communities undertake ecological restoration projects. What is Ecological Restoration and why is it important? On March 1, 2019 the UN General Assembly officially adopted the resolution declaring 2021-2030 the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. Each of our communities has a role to play in restoring our waters, lands and habitats.
Midcoast Conservancy’s Role
Based on our successful watershed scale restoration efforts in the Sheepscot River, the Town of Camden, Maine, brought on Midcoast Conservancy to facilitate the Megunticook River Watershed Restoration and Climate Resilience Project. Such worthy and gargantuan efforts are rarely accomplished alone. Midcoast Conservancy was able to see fish passage restored on the Sheepscot River because of a solid partnership with Atlantic Salmon Federation and The Nature Conservancy , the towns of Whitefield and Alna and, of course, with the support of our members. To learn more about two major barriers removed on the Sheepscot River, which move us and the fish incrementally toward watershed scale restoration, check out our Magic on the River video.
This new project on the Megunticook River holds promise for a free-flowing and climate-resilient waterway, which will ultimately provide over 1,500 acres of habitat for Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), a species declared as a species of concern by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
With a growing ecological restoration program, Midcoast Conservancy is uniquely situated to work across land trust boundaries and increase the capacity for ecosystem restoration, especially aquatic and coastal connectivity in the Midcoast Region by sharing our expertise in river restoration and coastal resiliency. For this project, in addition to the Town of Camden, we are partnering with Coastal Mountains Land Trust who will serve as a stakeholder for reviewing river restoration options in the Megunticook River, and be a colleague as we learn together to find the best science-based approach for the Megunticook River.
Watershed Scale Feasibility Process
The Town of Camden wants to do the right thing to restore ecosystem health and plan for community resilience while fulfilling obligations to protect infrastructure. Camden hired the engineering firm Interfluve, to provide planning assistance and guidance on improving its infrastructure resilience and sustainability, restoring native fish passage, mitigating flood risk hazards, reducing operations and maintenance costs, as well as improving habitat, water quality, and quality of life. Funds were made available for this work with grants from the Maine Coastal Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF).
Like so many towns in Maine, Camden is faced with excessive costs related to maintaining, operating, and or repairing remnant dams, which no longer serve their intended purpose, and which block the natural flow of water that is critical for native migratory fish to complete their life cycle. Climate change impacts like extreme storm events, sea-level-rise, warming oceans, ocean acidification, and extended periods of drought add to the complexities to be considered in decision making. A feasibility study was completed for the Montgomery Dam by Interfluve, and based on feedback from the community, the larger feasibility study for the rest of the river was initiated. Stakeholder input will be sought throughout the project.
Project Updates and More Information
Stay tuned for updates on how you can get involved in this significant restoration effort.
For more information, contact Shri Verrill, Midcoast Conservancy’s Senior Watershed Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.