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NOAA Grants $400,000 for Penobscot River Habitat Restoration

[node:summary]Penobscot River restoration gets a boost from a $400,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is granting $400,000 for restoration of Penobscot River habitat, in line with its designation of the region as one of two Habitat Focus Areas back in May.

The Penobscot is the second-largest river in New England, NOAA said in a media release in May, providing habitat for 11 sea-run species of fish, including three species—Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, and Atlantic salmon—that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA’s efforts are aimed at offsetting damage to ecosystems that are compromised by pollution and overfishing, the Associated Press reported. The agency told AP that the project involves improving passage areas for fish, as well as bettering conditions for commercially and recreationally important species.

The Penobscot Indian Nation, whose members have lived along the river for thousands of years, rely on this habitat and the salmon that return there from the sea every year. Dam removal, NOAA’s first restoration phase, has helped bring the river back to life.

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RELATED: Dam Removal Launches Penobscot River Restoration

“The Penobscot River drains the largest watershed in Maine and is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's flagship river for the restoration of Atlantic salmon in this country,” explains the Penobscot Nation on its site. “Almost 80 percent of all salmon returning to U.S. waters calls the Penobscot River home.”

While these species benefit from large-scale removal projects such as the elimination of the Veazie and Great Works dams, they also benefit from the removal of smaller barriers that have been preventing them from accessing historic habitat, NOAA said.

The other habitat designation was the Choptank River complex in Maryland and Delaware, AP said.

“This latest investment in restoring the Penobscot River is incredibly important. Restoring and even increasing the Penobscot’s ability to support a wide variety of fish is a win for our state,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-2nd District), in a statement praising NOAA’s move. “This project, over the long-run, stands to create new jobs and boost fishing, tourism and recreational activities on and along the Penobscot.”