Project Name: Penobscot River Restoration NEPA Process

Summary:  NEPA EA and watershed-scale assessment of river restoration

Client: The Nature Conservancy / NOAA

Project Location: Central Maine

Project Size: 8,570 Square Miles

Services Provided:

  • NEPA EA for Dam Decommissioning
  • Impact Analysis
  • Alternatives Analysis
  • Agency Consultation
  • Fish Population Assessment
  • Fisheries Baseline Study
  • Aquatic Habitat Assessment

Project Timeframe: 2007 - Present

Relationship with Client: Since 2007

Client Needs:
Like most large New England rivers, during the 19th and early 20th centuries the Penobscot experienced significant losses to native fisheries including large, self-sustaining populations such as Atlantic salmon, alewife, American shad, sturgeon, striped bass, American eel, and other species. As a landmark project supporting efforts to fully restore the native fish fauna, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust initiated the NEPA process for the removal of two large dams and fish passage for a third. This ambitious project will significantly change habitat connectivity and increase fluvial habitat available for migration, rearing, and spawning. Anticipated large-scale ecological responses include restoration of riverine fish communities, in-stream habitat, and functional floodplains and wetlands. To date, few river restoration and dam removal efforts of this enormous scale have been permitted, implemented, and monitored.
Kleinschmidt Solution:
Kleinschmidt completed the NEPA EA for this large-scale river restoration project. Kleinschmidt also completed supporting ecological studies. Beginnning in 2008, Kleinschmidt collected data through the implementation of an electrofishing survey to quantitatively document the pre-restoration fish community composition at 18 reference locations throughout affected areas of the watershed. The survey methodology included assessments during both the spring and fall to spatially evaluate seasonal cycles in fish populations. Kleinschmidt collaborated with state and federal agencies, University of Maine, Penobscot Indian Nation, Midwest Biodiversity Institute, and several conservation NGO's to develop and execute the alternatives and impact analyses as well as related field work and studies.
Client Benefits:
This NEPA document and related studies provided the foundation for a large-scale river restoration success.