January 2017 newsletter - Read about:
2016 DNR Highlights
EPA Further Protects the Penobscot River
Boy Scout Road Project
Brownfields Program
Fisheries Projects

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Newsletter from the Penobscot Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources

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A Message from the DNR Director -
2016 DNR Highlights

Happy 2017!
I wanted to share with the tribal membership some of the highlights and accomplishments with your natural resources during 2016.
The Penobscot River Restoration Project completed the third component of this historic project with the completion of the fish bypass channel at the Howland dam in June. This project provides access to hundreds of miles of prime fish habitat in the Piscataquis River Drainage. With the removals of the Great Works and Veazie dams in 2012 and 2013 we are already seeing large numbers of Shad, Alewives, Striped Bass, and other fish species at Milford for the first time in 200 years! I am very excited and pleasantly surprised at the early success of this project.
Other fish passage related projects were completed in 2016 in the Mattamiscontis/South Branch lake areas. The outlet structures at East Branch Pond and South Branch Lake were upgraded during the summer/fall, providing improved fish passage and lake water level stabilization. I encourage tribal members to visit these sites. (See related article in this edition of DNR news)
The Wildlife Management program activities during 2016 include many accomplishments. The creation of moose and bear hunt pages on the DNR website, the repair and building of several Beaver Deceivers on trust and fee lands, testing of contaminants in furbearers from the river, surveying and mapping of tribal wetlands to name a few. We were also able to hire a tribal member Field Technician in 2016 to assist the Wildlife Biologist in this important work.
The Penobscot Nation Warden Service had a very good year with lots of Fish and Game enforcement activity. We hired a third full time Game Warden in April which provides additional protection of our fish and wildlife resources. In 2016 we implemented the lifetime licensing procedure so that in the future tribal members do not have to get annual licenses to hunt, fish, or trap on tribal lands. 
The education of Wabanaki tribal youth in the natural resources fields took a major step forward in 2016 with the further development of the WaYS program. WaYS stands for “Wabanaki Youth in the sciences” and is designed to orient our tribal youth to the various natural resources sciences and tribal DNR programs. Several “youth camps” were conducted in which TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) and western science approaches are brought together to best prepare our youth for potential careers in natural resources management. The WaYS program also placed several Wabanaki youth as interns in tribal and other natural resource agencies.
Assessing and remediation of contaminated sites on tribal lands continued be a DNR priority in 2016, with the expansion of our tribal Brownfields Program. DNR hired a tribal member as “Brownfields Program Coordinator.” (See related article in this edition of DNR news)
Forest Management activities proceeded full speed ahead during 2016. Harvesting operations in Alder Stream, Matagamon, Mattamiscontis, Lakeville, and Carrabassett Valley produced close to $1Million in tribal revenue in 2016. Through the building of roads associated with logging operations, access to areas in Williamsburg and Alder Stream Trust land was significantly improved. Our TSI (timber stand improvement) program treated about 84 acres in the Mattamiscontis Trust Land parcel. The TSI program improves both the growth rate and species composition in treated areas. The forestry program also conducted boundary line maintenance projects in Argyle, Alton, Alder Stream, Matagamon, and Mattamiscontis.
The Penobscot Nation’s Air Quality program in 2016, after the culmination of two years’ worth of preparation and planning resulted in a powerful new air quality program component: real-time particulate matter monitoring. Located in Carrabassett Valley, alongside the Tribe’s mercury collector and acid rain sampling stations, this new device sits inside a large white metal box with its own climate control.  The real time data it collects is sent via internet to a data collector/analyzer many miles away.  In the near future, the data will be shown on our tribal website, to be updated every five minutes. Our Tribe collaborated with the federal government, the state government, and the town of Carrabassett Valley for the benefit of all who want to know what is in the air that we breathe. 
2016 saw great progress in the protection and improvement of water quality in our lakes, streams, and the Penobscot River. After many years of advocacy by our Tribal Chief, tribal attorneys, and DNR the USEPA developed new water quality standards to better protect tribal cultural uses of waters in and around tribal lands. These new water quality standards are designed to protect human health, at fish consumption rates higher than were previously in place.

Also, in 2016 the Water Resources program installed practices to control run off and siltation from the Boy Scout Road from entering Matagamon Lake (See related article in this edition of DNR news). We estimate this project will prevent ~7.5 tons of soil/year from entering the lake. During the 2016 field season the water resources program also installed and operated water temperature recorders at 17 sites on Trust Lands and the Penobscot River to continuously measure water temperature year round.  Data from these are useful for evaluating water quality and suitability of habitat for fish, and contributes to a state-wide and regional-wide stream temperature monitoring network to help understand impacts of climate change. DNR water quality staff visited sampling sites on the Penobscot River, tributaries, and Trust Land lakes 327 times to monitor water quality.  We collected 1,005 samples and took 3,988 measurements.
I would like to extend a “KCI WOLIWONI” to the Chief and Council, committee members, tribal member guides, our many partners, and especially our DNR staff for your support and dedication to the management of our Natural Resources. I feel confident that the next 7 generations of Penobscots will be able to use and enjoy our lands and resources as our ancestors had envisioned.

EPA Issues Water Quality Regulation to Protect the Penobscot River

On December 8, 2016 EPA issued final federal water quality standards governing the Penobscot River to protect the sustenance fishing rights of the Penobscot Nation.  These WQS take into account the best available science, including local and regional information, as well as applicable EPA policies, guidance, and legal requirements, to protect human health and aquatic life.

In 1980, upon settling land claims of the Penobscot Nation and other tribes, the US Congress confirmed that the tribes would have a right to take fish within their reservations for sustenance.  Last year, the EPA, backed by the US Department of the Interior, told Maine that the law required the existence of fish of a quality to eat at meaningful levels of consumption.

Historically, Penobscot tribal members have consumed fish and other food sources from the Penobscot River at much higher rates.  In the 1980s and early 1990s, for example, Penobscots relied upon the River for food sources at the rates averaging up to 750 grams per day. But those consumption rates went down in the face of dioxin and other pollutant contamination in the River.

A year ago, the EPA disapproved human health criteria that Maine used in its water quality standards because they exposed Penobscot tribal members and other Maine Indians to cancer and other health risks, given tribal fish consumption rates.  Maine used a fish consumption rate of 32.4 grams per day for Native populations.  The EPA found that rate erroneous and adopted water quality standards to protect the health of tribal members at a consumption rate of 286 grams per day.

Penobscot Chief, Kirk Francis, praised EPA.  “This is great news for the Penobscot River, the Penobscot People, and the State of Maine,” said Francis.  “This brings us one step closer to restoring the fish habitat of the Penobscot River for the betterment of all who use this extraordinary River.”

Maine Public Radio
Bangor Daily News
Portland Press Herald

Boy Scout Road NPS Project

T6R8/Matagamon is the tribe’s northernmost trust land parcel.  This trust land is 9,147 acres and contains the tribe’s largest high quality cold water fish habitat in Matagamon Lake.   Mountain Catcher Pond and Morrel Pond are also located partially on this trust land.  This land is heavily used by tribal members primarily for sustenance fishing, hunting and gathering, spiritual retreat, as well as camping, hiking, and swimming. 

The main access into tribal member camps is the Boy Scout Road.  This is a 6.5 mile long road that enters off of the Grand Lake Road and leads into tribal member camps as well as the Boy Scout High Adventure Camps.  The last 1/2 mile section of the road was actively eroding and posed a high severity threat to Matagamon Lake.  The threat was high because of the close proximity of the road to the lake.  This road was an old “hard pan” type of road.  “Hard pan” roads are old logging roads that were constructed by simply bulldozing all topsoil down to bed rock or a hard rock bottom.  This type of road was a quick and dirty way for logging companies to access harvest areas several decades ago.  When a storm event happened the road was essentially a stream bed or gully with high banks on either side (see pic #1).  Water was flowing directly in the road causing severe erosion and carrying nutrient rich sediments directly into the lake. 

To address these problems PIN Water Resources Program submitted an EPA Tribal 319 Competitive NPS Grant Proposal.  In 2015 PIN Water Resources Program was awarded a $100,000 grant to address the NPS threats to Matagamon Lake.  In this proposal we proposed to install road related Best Management Practices or BMPs to control erosion and sediment transport into Matagamon Lake.  Specifically we created ditches and ditch turn outs to provide proper water drainage.  We resurfaced and reshape approximately 1/2 mile of road.  Because of the steep slopes on the road PIN installed 12 cross-drainage culverts to this section of road.  Also, in the sections closest to the lake PIN installed rocked settling areas (bio drains) at the outlet of culverts (see pic #2).   A rocked settling area or bio drain is preferred at the outlet of a culvert because it will help slow water velocity and allow sediments to settle before entering the lake.  This project has prevented the erosion problems that had existed by having a road surface with proper pitch and ditches as well as the new cross-drainage culverts and bio drains.
#2 AFTER PERSPECTIVE - Boy Scout Road, same location
Biodrain on Boy Scout Road

News From the Brownfields Program

Hello, I am Georgia King Underwood a new employee with the Brownfields Program in the Department of Natural Resources here on Indian Island. So what is the Brownfield Program? “Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or containment.” (USEPA).

The purpose of this program:
  • Provides a means to enhance Economic Development
  • Enhances the Quality of Life by decreasing blight and providing a safer environment.
  • Reduces exposure of Harmful Substances to human health and the environment
  • Provides Funding to Investigate a cleanup sites
  • Protects and Enhances the Environment for Future Generations
With the help of the EPA Brownfields Tribal Response Program (CERCLA) federal grant funding under 128(A) and great consultants Campbell Environmental Group we are able to continue our program and build on it. Currently, we are working on building our inventory for cleanup sites. We are planning a community outreach dinner, website development so that you can access public inventory of cleanup sites, health and safety training, and environmental resource education. With the help of Campbell Environmental Group we will be able deliver site specific Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, and Remedial Action Planning for our current inventory and new sites.

The goal of this program is identify potential Brownfields sites so they can be investigated and remediated, if necessary, to protect human health and the environment. Brownfield program works with Penobscot Trust Land and Fee Lands. For more information about the program use this link If you need to contact me please do!

Fisheries Projects From 2016

The Penobscot Nations’ Fisheries Department completed two very large aquatic habitat construction projects on Tribal Trust lands in 2016.  Both projects required many years of work and collaboration and both occurred within the Penobscot River watershed on Penobscot Nation Tribal Trust lands.

The lake outlets for South Branch and East Branch lakes were rebuilt in order to allow for continuous fish passage and to maintain stable lake levels in the future.  The existing structures were remnant dams of the log driving era and had fallen into states of disrepair. The South Branch Lake outlet was a series of boulders tied into a large earthen berm on both sides. Water flowing out of the lake was sieving through these boulders and the site was identified as a barrier to fish passage.  The East Branch Lake outlet was in a similar condition, with a crumbling structure and earthen berm which constricted the river channel making it near impossible for fish to migrate into the lake in the spring because of extreme water velocities.

The Penobscot Nation partnered with the US Fish and wildlife Service, US Dept. of Commerce’s’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Dept. of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Nature Conservancy to get these projects designed, built and paid for.  The robust and sustainable structures in place now will enable approximately 750,000 alewives to return to these lakes annually. When combined with the alewife run into the Mattamiscontis lakes, there will be approximately 1 million alewives returning annually to the Tribal lakes.  The goal of having a local tribal harvest on these runs will be fulfilled in just a few years as the runs build. The projects also included access roads to the lake outlets not only for construction but also for future Tribal access.

These projects were also done as part of a larger effort to restore stream connectivity, multiple species of sea-run fish and stream function within the Penobscot River watershed.

This effort is replacing culverts, bridges and removing dams and unnecessary stream crossings across the drainage. Three culverts were replaced on the Mattamiscontis Loop Road in 2015 and three more culverts will be replaced within that Tribal Trust land in 2017. It is the goal of the Tribe to complete at least three of these culvert projects every year until no more impediments to fish passage and stream function exist on Penobscot Nation lands.

Dan McCaw, the Penobscot Nation Fisheries biologist will be looking for volunteers in the spring of 2017 to canoe South Branch and Mattamiscontis Streams in order to remove possible blockades, mainly active and un-breached beaver dams.  The goal of this effort would be to allow adult alewives free swim access to the lakes so that they can spawn.  East Branch Lake will hopefully be stocked with alewives for the first time in 2017, so the emphasis will be on South Branch and Mattamiscontis Streams.  For more information about these projects or the spring 2017 working canoe trip, please contact Dan McCaw by email at, or by phone at (207) 817-7377.
East Branch Lake Outlet - BEFORE
East Branch Lake Outlet - AFTER
South Branch Lake Outlet - BEFORE
South Branch Lake Outlet - AFTER
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