The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Four     Number One                           Late Winter 2000

Testimony of Joan McMurray at Salmon Conservation Hearing 29 January 2000

The Maine salmon Conservation Plan, if implemented, would be an effective tool. However, the State of Maine seems to be mostly giving "lip service" to the plan. Some examples follow:

*Although the State claims to have reduced withdrawal from the rivers this year, Cherryfield Foods had two (2) 12 inch irrigation pipes pulling water from the Great Heath this year (compared to one last year). This continued well into the fall, as they also watered next year's crop. They pulled off a bumper crop in a year of severe drought, yet our Governor, during a visit here, promised to help them get more water. This is the headwaters of the Pleasant River, and the Heath remained a good two feet down past November.
*Connor's Salmon Hatchery, also headwaters of the Pleasant, has been in violation for 10 years for discharging fish waste, nutrients, etc. into the river. The State knows about it, but does not enforce the law. This has ruined trout fishing in this river.
*Open sewage (straight pipes from homes and businesses) still enters the rivers (Narraguagus, Pleasant, etc.). State money is available to correct this, but it's hard for smaller towns to access.
*In the rush to build cranberry bogs, the State streamlined the permitting process. However, Cherrryfield Foods jumped the gun and began work on hundreds of acres, before the EPA and DEP had given their OK. They were fined, but not deterred. Severe sedimentation has occurred, a spawning bed destroyed, and the bogs are not in compliance with the proscribed protection from pesticides leaching into the ground water (i.e., 5" of humus layers instead of 10"). This involves both the Pleasant and Machias Rivers.
*Volunteers testing the Pleasant River for the DEP found "red flag levels" of phosphorus.
* Maine Wild discharged raw sewage into the Machias River, was fined, then proceeded to truck the stuff up to the barrens and spread it on the blueberry fields without proper permitting. (They are a subsidiary of Oxford Foods, which owns Cherryfield Foods.)

The list goes on. Most of these infringements happened this past year. I propose that we need the listing in order to force the State of Maine to implement the Salmon Plan. The State seems more interested in keeping Big Business happy (even foreign corporations which don't even process their berries here) than in making our rivers habitable to fish, whether or not they are a distinct population segment. We need to save the rivers. People and small businesses need not be afraid of listing if they are not doing anything wrong!

Joan McMurray is an organic farmer from Columbia Falls.

Other Articles About Atlantic Salmon in This Issue
Quisling Rivalry
Atlantic Salmon, Extinction by Politics?
Atlantic Salmon Hearings 
Will We Ever Learn: Report of the Commission to study the Atlantic Salmon (1947)
A Fish Tale of Two States

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