Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23: Breaching the dam

I watched footage taken this morning of excavators breaching the Great Works Dam, sited on the Penobscot River just south of Indian Island, home of the Penobscot tribe. This is the largest ever river restoration project in North America. Veazie Dam will also be demolished starting next year, clearing the last obstacle between young salmon and the sea along the ancient path of the river. I found myself staring at the screen for long minutes, fascinated as any child by the dinosaur-like efforts of the big yellow excavators as they picked their way over to the dam and began shredding it apart--as well as by the widening stream of water pouring through cracks and openings in the old walls. This dam removal is a truly historic occasion, one that will help restore balance to one of Maine's great rivers.

The Penobscot River feeds Penobscot Bay, the western shores of which include my town. If you look at a map of Maine, Penobscot Bay is the big v-shaped divot in the middle of the coastline. This amazing project lengthens our ties by water to interior Maine--soon, you will be able to get there from here once more. And more importantly, fish will, too, without having to be trucked there from the base of these dams. There's something about a free-running river flowing unfettered to the sea that stirs the soul--the freedom of the water and what lives in it, yes, but also the relinquishment of control, the removal of obstructions--the wild nature of water.

We free the water
and remember all that flows
through those wide blue veins.

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