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Dam Removal to Help Restore Spawning Grounds

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BRADLEY, Me. -- Under a bright sky here, a convoy of heavy equipment rolled onto the bed of the Penobscot River on Monday to smash the Great Works Dam, a barrier that has blocked the river for nearly two centuries.

Before the destruction began, a tribal elder from the Penobscot Indian Nation used an eagle wing to fan smoke from a smoldering smudge of sage, tobacco and sweet grass over the crowd that had gathered to watch."Today signifies the most important conservation project in our 10,000-year history on this great river that we share a name with, and that has provided for our very existence," said the tribal chief, Kirk Francis.

The Penobscot River's once-abundant runs of salmon, shad, sturgeon, alewives, eels and smelt were nearly wiped out because for years the dams -- there are three in the river's first 10 miles alone -- impeded migrations to their spawning grounds. "Returning these species of fish to their historic habitat, we will see the river continue to come back to life in a major way," Mr. Francis said.

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