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Environment and Outdoors

Conservation groups ask a federal judge to halt Kennebec River dam operations for endangered Atlantic Salmon migration

Kennebec River Dam Skowhegan, Maine
Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Brookfield spokeswoman Miranda Kessel says the fourth dam, called Weston, will continue to operate, because studies show the Salmon stand a better chance of survival passing through the turbines than when they spill over the top of that dam.

Four conservation groups have asked a federal judge to order a cessation of dam operations on the lower Kennebec River so that endangered Atlantic Salmon can migrate.

It's the latest move in a series of legal and regulatory actions taken from both sides.

At issue are four hydroelectric dams on the Kennebec, owned by Brookfield Renewable Partners, the Canadian subsidiary of the multinational Brookfield Asset Management.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers, and Natural Resources Council of Maine are asking that Brookfield be ordered to stop operations at three of the four dams it owns, and allow salmon access at all sites, between the Gulf of Maine and river spawning grounds.

The request comes after a lawsuit filed by the same groups in September against Brookfield, for what they describe as repeated violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Brookfield last month filed a lawsuit of its own against the State of Maine over how the Marine Resources Department was handling the disputes over fish passage.

As those lawsuits make their way through the legal process, the conservation groups' preliminary injunction, if granted, would require Brookfield to interrupt its dam operations from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, and again from April 1 to the end of June.