SEDGWICK — State and federal environmental officials Tuesday proposed to use an $800,000 natural resource damage settlement to fund four restoration projects benefiting fish, wildlife and communities in Sedgwick and Brooksville as well as Hampden and Charleston in Penobscot County, according to a press release issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The projects are outlined in a draft restoration plan for the Chevron Oil Terminal Facility in Hampden that is available for public comment through Friday, Aug. 30.
The settlement was secured by the federal and state governments from parties responsible for multiple releases of oil at the former Chevron and Texaco marine oil terminal facilities on the Penobscot River in Hampden, according to the DEP.
The DEP, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively, the natural resource trustees for the site) are responsible for selecting natural resource restoration projects that would restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources that were injured.
In late 2017, the trustees requested ideas from the public for restoration projects within the Penobscot River watershed.
Four project ideas were submitted by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Lane Construction. The trustees propose to partially fund all four, given that other funds to support these projects are also available.
The proposed projects are located in Kenduskeag Stream (Charleston), Sucker Brook (Hampden) and the Bagaduce River (Sedgwick and Brooksville).
Overall, seven undersized and/or perched road culverts will be replaced, and two fishways will be installed. Combined, these projects will open up more than 17.5 miles of river and stream habitat to benefit migratory fish (American eel, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt and Atlantic salmon), invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
These projects will complement fish passage efforts by federal and state agencies in the Penobscot watershed, including the removal of the Great Works & Veazie dams on the mainstem, and the installation of a byway for fish and other aquatic wildlife at the Howland Dam.
A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that every mile of river opened so that fish can move freely can contribute more than $500,000 in social and economic benefits once fish populations are at their full productivity (https://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2011/pdf/fisherieseconomicreport.pdf).
To download a copy of the plan, visit https://www.maine.gov/dep/comment/comment.html?id=1369545.
Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Following the public comment period, the trustees will review input, update the restoration plan as needed, and release the final plan.