260 years is a long time to wait for a little fish and its people.
Early Winthrop settlers had enjoyed abundant sea-run fish in the early 1700’s before Cobbosseecontee outlet was dammed in Gardiner, Maine. Since 1771, Pond Town (as Winthrop was known then) petitioned for fish passage for over 25 years. Upstream's founder, Tina Wood's Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Enoch Wood, was a selectman for the town of Winthrop in 1795. He again chose a fish committee to implore Gardinerstown Plantation (as Gardiner was known then) to allow the alewives and sturgeons to pass the dams. The courts favored the dams. Returning sea-run fish were barred from their natal streams and ponds.
Three dams in downtown Gardiner remain today and Upstream is working with the owners, the City of Gardiner, Maine Department of Marine Resources, NOAA and people like you to create fish passage on Cobbossee Stream in downtown Gardiner over New Mills dam, American Tissue dam and Gardiner Paperboard dam.
Upstream believes our beautiful watershed will be improved with the return of the alewife, a keystone species that brings food and wildlife to Central Maine and the Gulf of Maine. Our city and scientific community believes this too and together we are working to restore this dynamic cycle of migration that inspires and adds vitality to our watershed.
Upstream, a local non-profit dedicated to restoring sea-run fish to Cobbossee Stream carries on the mission begun in 1761 for safe passage of migrating fish into the streams, ponds and lakes in Cobbossee's watershed. Please click on the link Water Quality and Alewife Restoration in Cobbossee Watershed to read the historic letter by Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Inland Fish & Wildlife and Maine Department of Environmental Protection supporting the reintroduction of alewives in Cobbossee watershed. Below are important links in support of fish passage on Cobbossee including the just released, beautiful 10 minute film by Jerry Monkman, Eco Photography about the compelling story of alewives.
10 minute video: Keystone: Voices for the Little Fish
Dam #4, the Gardiner Paperboard Dam is the only remaining granite dam on the stream today. Dam #4 is the first impediment to returning sea-run fish on the stream.
Gardiner Area High School students, under the direction of science teacher, Sharon Gallant participate in a citizen science data collection project for 5 weeks beginning in May, collecting 50 alewives to measure, weigh, sex and obtain scale samples to use for important research on the alewife's life cycle. These two video clips show this dynamic research in action on Cobbossee Stream! Thank you Sharon for your innovative work with students!