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Maine DEP investigating allegations of improper dredging of south branch of the Sandy River

State marine biologist Jennifer Noll wades through the cold, clear waters of the South Branch of the Sandy River in search of redds, the rocky nests in which Atlantic salmon have laid their eggs.
Murray Carpenter
/
Maine Public
State marine biologist Jennifer Noll wades through the cold, clear waters of the South Branch of the Sandy River in search of redds, the rocky nests in which Atlantic salmon have laid their eggs.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is investigating allegations that the town of Phillips dredged the south branch of the Sandy River, affecting other branches where endangered Atlantic salmon migrate.

A DEP spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing, and that department staff have visited the site, and contacted state and local officials to evaluate possible impacts.

Daniel McCaw, who has studied salmon habitat in the Sandy River, told the Portland Press Herald that the town dredged several feet down in a central channel in December, to alleviate flooding after the December rainstorm.

But he said that caused several other branches of the river to dry up, preventing Atlantic salmon migration, and destroying developing salmon eggs.

McCaw said the town should have contacted the state DEP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services before altering the flow of the river.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.