WESTBROOK, Maine, March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Sappi Fine Paper North America, the City of Westbrook, Friends of the Presumpscot River, the Conservation Law Foundation, and state and federal regulators, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Marine Resources, have agreed on a plan to evaluate two potential designs for fish passage at the Saccarappa Falls dam.
"We are committed to a collaborative and open process to explore alternative fish passage designs to allow sea-run fish to move beyond the Saccarappa Falls dam," said Donna Cassese, managing director of the Westbrook Mill. "We see this as a major step forward for the community and an opportunity to work together in good faith to achieve our shared goals, which include ensuring safe, timely and effective fish passage."
The agreement includes a cost-sharing commitment between Westbrook and Sappi to fund a third-party consultant who will create a design for a "nature-like" fish passage. Sappi has recently submitted plans to federal and state regulators seeking approval for installation of a Denil "fish ladder" at Saccarappa Falls dam, but all parties have agreed to seek delay of those proceedings so that an alternative approach can be explored together. In addition, the work will evaluate the inclusion of recreational features, including potential use by kayakers, as requested by the city.
"We remain excited and hopeful about the future of the river. We think this agreement represents a common sense and consensus based effort by the parties to bring about the best possible outcome in terms of fish passage, recreation and responsible environmental stewardship," said Mayor Colleen Hilton.
Sappi will contribute up to $150,000 for the work, while Westbrook's Environmental Improvement Corporation will contribute $50,000.
"Ensuring that American shad, Atlantic salmon, and river herring are able to pass above Saccarappa Falls each spring is a key component for restoring sea-run fish to the Presumpscot," noted Michael Shaughnessy, President of Friends of the Presumpscot River. "This agreement is an important step forward," he said.
The agreement also confirms that the parties will support a two year deadline extension for the construction of the fish passage to May 2017, allowing for consultation with resource agencies and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the final design, and postponing Sappi's plans to surrender its license to operate the dam.
"Even though this agreement delays the implementation of fish passage at the Saccarappa dam, getting the optimal design for fish passage that is effective, efficient and enduring is critical," said Sean Mahoney, Executive Vice-President of the Conservation Law Foundation.
About Sappi Fine Paper North America:
Sappi Fine Paper North America, known for innovation and quality, is a preeminent North American producer of coated fine and release papers, as well as dissolving wood pulp (DWP) and market kraft pulp headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Its coated fine papers, with highly recognized brand names such as McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo, are used in premium magazines, catalogs, books and high-end print advertising. Its food packaging brand, Lusterprint is a greaseproof product with an excellent print surface. The company is also the world's leading supplier of release papers for the automotive, fashion and engineered films industries, including the globally recognized Ultracast brand. Sappi's release papers provide the surface aesthetics for synthetic fabrics used in footwear, clothing, upholstery and accessories, as well as the textures for decorative laminates found in kitchens, baths, flooring and other decorative surfaces. Sappi globally is the world's largest manufacturer of dissolving wood pulp, a versatile raw material for a wide range of products including textile fibers and household products. Sappi Fine Paper North America, through the recent conversion of the Cloquet pulp mill, manufactures dissolving pulp under Sappi's Specialized Cellulose division primarily for the textile markets.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with over 14,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 100 countries around the world. Learn more about Sappi at: www.sappi.com/na.
About the Conservation Law Foundation and Friends of the Presumpscot River:
CLF: Since 1966, the Conservation Law Foundation has been working to protect the environment and ensure thriving communities using the law, science and economics. CLF has partnered with FOPR for more than a decade to restore sea-run fish to the Presumpscot River.
About FOPR: Founded in 1992 with the belief that Presumpscot River should be restored to ecological health, FOPR is a watershed-based, all-volunteer citizen organization that works continuously to protect and improve the water quality, indigenous fisheries, recreational opportunities and natural character of the Presumpscot River. FOPR is proud of the part it has played in bringing both people and sea-run fish back to the Presumpscot over the last 20 years, as the first barriers to fish passage have been removed, native species have returned, recreational access has been built, and water quality has recovered.
SOURCE Sappi Fine Paper North America