ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Every thirty years, dams across the country have to renew their licenses. A reported fish kill at the Leonard Lake dam is making it difficult for Brookfield Renewable Energy to renew its license this year.
Brett Ciccotelli, from the Downeast Salmon federation, began fishing at a young age and quickly fell in love with wildlife. Now he spends his life protecting the environment and being the voice for animals that do not have a say.
“We act as an advocacy group to make sure that people are paying attention and that these priorities are being met,” said Ciccotelli.
He said there has not been enough attention paid to the fish kill at the Leonard Lake Dam.
Recently, he and his team collected thousands of mutilated fish… some missing one or both eyes, others without heads… and those still alive were swimming in circles.
Cicctelli said it is a result of being struck by the dam’s turbines and the high water pressure the dam creates.
“There are different ways to do it to honor the need for power and benefit the community’s gain for productive fisheries,” he said.
Chiccotelli fears the current state of the dam will ruin the ecosystem.
“With fish, you also have communities that can develop healthier communities,” he said.
Although Brookfield—the company that owns the dam—said it is constantly working to minimize the potential environmental impacts associated with their operations, Chiccotelli said, that is just not enough.
“For us, it’s really about fish passage,” he said. “That’s really what we want to see—however that takes, whatever form that takes.”
The license renewal of the dam is scheduled at the end of 2017-- FERC's decision will determine the fate of the river for the next thirty years.