Restoring the Penobscot River

A story by John Banks from 2019

John Banks on the Penobscot River, 2018. Photo courtesy of Bridget Besaw.

The Penobscot River Restoration Project (PRRP) is by far the most important natural resources conservation project we have been involved with in modern times. The project has opened up 2,000 miles of rivers and streams to sea-run fish such as Atlantic salmon and shad through dam removals and fish passageways, while increasing hydropower generation.

The Penobscot River watershed is the ancestral home of the Penobscot Nation and is often referred to as the life blood of our tribe. The river has provided the means of survival for our tribe for over 10,000 years, providing all the necessities of life: food, shelter, medicines, and transportation to gather these and other culturally relevant materials. The river has become the center of our cultural traditions that define our tribe.

To the Penobscot Nation, the PRRP is much more than a fisheries restoration project. It represents the healing of a natural cycle that had been temporarily interrupted by the industrial revolution.

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