Narraguagus River

Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) is currently working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) to raise $120k that will go toward a feasibility study to be conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), which will look at options for modification or removal of the ice dam on the Narraguagus River in the Town of Cherryfield. The ice dam currently impedes diadromous fish passage between salt and fresh water, contributing to the decline of the once highly productive salmon fisheries along with American shad, alewives, blueback herring, sea-run brook trout, American eel, sea lamprey, and striped bass.

The dam was designed and built by the Army Corps, but maintenance of the structure is the responsibility of the town. In 2009 ACOE inspected the dam and determined that the town was not keeping up its maintenance and was in violation.  After a meeting between the Town of Cherryfield, the ACOE and the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), DMR proposed a feasibility study to look at dam removal scenarios, alternative ice control structures, and alewife harvesting infrastructure.  The town agreed, but since DMR was unable to secure funding, DSF, The Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to raise money to cover all of Cherryfield’s expenses, with ~$210k remaining to be raised.

In 2018, a stream survey was conducted by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab (CRREL). This survey will feed into a feasibility study led by the ACOE New England Regional office. CRREL will utilize survey data to determine if the ice control dam is serving to control ice and, if not, which alternatives, including removal of the dam, the ACOE should consider.

DSF and our partner organizations are committed to an outcome that will protect Cherryfield from future flooding caused by ice dams while also protecting the Narraguagus River riparian corridors, replacing old culverts with fish-friendly ones, and placing large wood in select areas to create new salmon and brook trout habitat.

To donate toward the work of helping to restore the Narraguagus River, you can mail a check with the note “Narraguagus Ice Dam Project” to P.O. Box 201, Columbia Falls, Maine 04623 or donate via our website HERE. Thank you for your support!