Setting Rivers Free: As Dams Are Torn Down, Nature is Quickly Recovering

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BENTON FALLS, MAINE — “Look underneath you,” commands Nate Gray, a burly biologist for the state of Maine. He reaches down to the grate floor of a steel cage perched on a dam straddling the Sebasticook River, and pulls back a board revealing the roiling river 30 feet below. “All you see is fish.”

Below, undulating in swift current, are the silver backs of thousands of small, sleek river herrings called alewives.

Six years ago, there were no alewives here. This summer, Mr. Gray expects 3 million. The fish arrive here, awaiting a lift over the 27-foot high hydroelectric dam in a $1 million hydraulic fish elevator, because two dams downstream have been demolished. The first “class” of alewives that hatched in lakes upstream after the dam removals are now returning by the millions after four years at sea, eager to spawn. “What you are looking at is a change in the mind-set of humanity toward what wealth is,” says Gray.

Article by: Doug Struck

Published by: The Christian Science Monitor

Published: August 3, 2014

Read full article here.