2018-2019 Winter Speaker Series

Cobboseecontee: On the Edge of Restoration

Steve Brooke, Upstream

Wednesday, February 13th, 7:00pm

Steve Brooke

Steve Brooke served as Project Coordinator of the Kennebec Coalition during the decommissioning and removal of the Edwards Dam in Augusta on Maine’s Kennebec River.   After retiring from the State Planning Office, he works with “Upstream”, a Gardiner, Maine group working to return river herring to the Cobbossee watershed.

Photo: Point of View Helicopter Services

Dammed at its head of tide in 1761, Cobbosseecontee Stream is the largest coastal watershed in Maine which still remains impassable to native migratory fish. A tributary of upper Merrymeeting Bay, the Cobbosseecontee watershed includes the communities of Gardiner, West Gardiner, Litchfield, Richmond, Winthrop, Manchester, Monmouth, Readfield and Hallowell. It contains 20.3 square miles of lakes and ponds, the largest being Cobbosseecontee (Gumscook), Maranacook and Annabessacook.

Working from 1998-2004, a consortium of local citizens, citizen conservation groups, and state and federal agencies secured $125,000 in funding for the necessary engineering studies, legal permits and construction contracts to breach and remove the frst dam on the watershed, the 180-year-old Gardiner Paperboard dam in downtown Gardiner, Maine.  After the hired contractor failed to perform the dam removal project in autumn 2004, the dam and adjoining property were subsequently sold to several entities, the most recent of which has declined interest in re-inititiating the dam removal project. Options available for securing passage for native fish on Cobbosseecontee Stream include cooperative public/private efforts by willing dam owners to provide fish passage; invocation of the State of Maine's fishway law; and use of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) for endangered anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) native to the watershed.

Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler