Palermo residents demand better consideration on dam issue

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Ursula Burke
Palermo resident

Several environmental groups (Mid-Coast Conservancy; Atlantic Salmon Federation) and Maine State agency (Department of Marine Resources) are advocating opening the Sheepscot Lake fishway to alewife herrings, American eels and parasitic sea lamprey eels. They say it is a river restoration project. But look at the history of the past 40-50 years on this lake. The lamprey eels damaged the rare, self-sustaining population of togue to the point that the fishway was closed for many decades. Now the evidence of damage to these fish has receded.

The Maine legislature will vote on bill LD922, introduced by State Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, who is also the founder and executive director of the Alewife Harvesters of Maine, to wrest control of the Sheepscot Lake dam from Inland Fish & Wildlife over to Marine Resources. Isn’t it a coincidence that alewives are used as bait for the lobster industry and that Mr. Pierce has an economic interest in having this bill pass? Isn’t this an obvious conflict of interest and an abuse of political position for personal gain?

And to reintroduce these fishes into Sheepscot Lake after many decades of being blocked is like introducing entirely new species. Yet no environmental impact studies or engineering studies have been done to gauge the impact to either the fish rearing station just downstream, to the existing fish population, or to water levels in the lake.

We, the Palermo residents and property owners of Sheepscot Lake, demand better consideration than this on behalf of this beautiful, balanced lake. It is a David and Goliath battle. Who will win…. the small town of Palermo or big business greed?

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