The Great Works Dam has stood as a barrier to spawning salmon and other fish on Maine's Penobscot River for nearly two centuries.
A convoy of heavy equipment began to dismantle the dam on Monday, 13 years after such a plan triggered years of conflict and negotiations between a hydropower company, the Penobscot Indian Nation and several conservation groups.
“Today signifies the most important conservation project in our 10,000-year history on this great river that we share a name with and that has provided for our very existence,” tribal chief Kirk Francis told The New York Times.
The river’s once abundant runs of salmon, shad, sturgeon, alewives, eels and smelt to their spawning grounds were halted by the dams — there are three in the river’s first 10 miles alone.
“Returning these species of fish to their historic habitat, we will see the river continue to come back to life in a major way,” Francis said.