Ecological and economic recovery and sustainability of the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers, estuary and nearshore environment
Bates College, Bowdoin College, University of Southern Maine
- The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
- Maine Department of Marine Resources
- The Alewife Harvesters of Maine
- Port Clyde Fresh Catch
If we as a society are to achieve sustainable natural resource use and vibrant regional economies, communication between scientists, stakeholders, and policy makers needs to be clear and unambiguous (Cash et al. 2003). Trust and mutual respect are needed that span the technocracy-democracy divide, a rift that is often at the core of natural resource conflicts (Fraser et al. 2006, Service 2003, Sallenave and Cowley 2006, Germain et al. 2001). Relations between scientists, policy makers, and stakeholders are replete with competing and conflicting interests, and misinterpretation and missteps are common when politics, science and public opinion mix. We see a compelling need and opportunity to explore the actions and resulting reactions to alewife restoration in the Kennebec River, and compare and contrast that to the Androscoggin River. Anadromous fish restoration intersects many ecological cycles. River herring such as alewives require access to the lakes in which they spawn as well as clean water in the rivers in which they rear. They serve as the forage base for several marine predators that humans harvest for food, and constitute a visible aesthetic component of freshwater ecosystems when present. In many ways, the river-estuary-nearshore complex is a single ecosystem stretching from the small ponds and streams high in the watershed to the once prolific cod fishing grounds several miles offshore. Our proposed EPSCoR research will begin to investigate these connections to qualify and quantify how human activities have degraded these natural resources from colonial times through the present, and how these changes have, in turn, influenced human communities. Exploring these dynamic interactions and feedbacks between society and the natural ecosystem are important for understanding the long-term sustainability of the socio-ecological system.
We will bring our findings to the current debates over river restoration in Maine. Using undergraduates as ambassadors and researchers, this project will report on the economics and
ecology of river restoration to groups weighing the costs and benefits of supporting river restoration in their area. We will use the Kennebec and the Androscoggin Rivers, their common estuary, and myriad lakes to study the effects river restoration can have on fisheries and economics at the basin and town scales.
Maine Policy Review
MPBN's Desperate Alewives