Water History

, 1:131

First online:

“Setting the river free”: The removal of the Edwards dam and the restoration of the Kennebec River

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The Edwards Dam, located on the Kennebec River of Maine, in the state’s capitol city, was removed in 1999 to restore fisheries such as alewives, striped bass, American shad, and endangered short-nosed sturgeon. The dam removal was ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the express purpose of restoring fisheries, the first time ever this was done in American history. This article examines the local environmental advocacy for river and fisheries restoration and the process resulting in dam removal and fisheries restoration. It argues that the Edwards Dam removal was critical in proving the environmental benefits of river restoration through removal as well as some economic benefits. This contributed to other U.S. efforts to remove dams to restore fisheries and assisted the expansion of this stage of American environmentalism. The article uses a number of primary sources including local newspapers, environmental group materials, and a number of interviews collected by the author.


Kennebec River Augusta, Maine Dam removal Fisheries restoration River restoration Striped bass American shad Short-nose sturgeon Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Environmentalists