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Confluence of the Piscataquis and Penobscot Rivers


The Penobscot River Restoration Trust purchased the Howland Dam in 2010 along with the Veazie Dam (removed in 2013) and the Great Works Dam (removed in 2012). Construction of a fish bypass at the Howland Dam was a key element of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, which aimed to significantly improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of historic habitat for 11 species of native sea-run fish while maintaining or increasing energy generation on Maine's Penobscot River system.

Howland Dam is a run-of-the-river dam on the Piscataquis River, a major tributary which joins the Penobscot in Howland, approximately 32 river-miles from where the Veazie Dam was removed in 2013 and the head of tide. As the mainstem of the river is opened up, fish access increases not only in the mainstem, but also into the many streams and tributaries connected to it. The Piscataquis and Pleasant rivers offer prime spawning and nursery habitat for Atlantic salmon and American shad. Successful restoration of self-sustaining runs of salmon, shad, and other migratory fish using the upper watershed depends on access to this habitat in the headwaters of the Penobscot River system. 

The Piscataquis River is now flowing through the bypass past the Howland Dam as initial testing of watering the Howland Bypass channel took place on September 28, 2015. The Bypass is fully operational. An integral task in the construction of the innovative, nature-like, fish bypass channel around the Howland Dam, contractor SumCo Eco-Contracting, which specializes in restoration projects and has constructed similar projects, is gradually letting river water flow into the channel in order to test flows before finalizing construction activities. This important step is enabling the technical team to see how well the channel meets design criteria important for the passage of several species of sea-run fish. It is an exciting moment for the project. Increasing numbers of sea-run fish upstream of the Milford Dam will now have vastly improved passage around the Howland Dam to critically important habitat in the Piscataquis watershed. Below is a photograph taken on-site of water flowing through the channel and the newly constructed bridge which spans it.

Howland Bypass Watering 09282015


The Bypass was largely built on property known to have been the site of the "Old Howland Tannery." The tannery was used as an industrial paper mill and plywood factory complex in the late 1800's, and the dam converted to hydropower in the early 1900's. The tannery site was abandoned in 1971. The larger property, except the portion that will become the new bypass, has been cleaned up and is intended by the Town to become a destination for river-related and outdoor recreation business development. The town received funding through the EPA's Brownfields program to clean up the site, and removed more than 50 tons of contaminated soil. A boat landing was constructed in 2014. As part of the future plans for the tannery property, the town used a Community Enterprise grant to hold a community visioning session, hire a design engineering firm to draw up plans based on the community vision, and has redeveloped the site with a trail and sidewalk system with lights, benches, and other amenities.

Bangor Daily News: Hundreds celebrate completion of Penobscot restoration project - June 14, 2016 

Bangor Daily News: Fish bypass construction starts in Howland... - December 25, 2014

Bangor Daily News: Howland tannery site upgrade set for summer - February 15, 2013

Aerial view of Howland Dam and revitalized shoreline.

Howland Project Summary (FERC No. 2721)

The Howland Project is located on the Piscataquis River approximately 500 ft upstream of its confluence with the Penobscot River in Howland, Maine, and is owned by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. The project dam consists of a 114.5-ft-long concrete cutoff wall at the north embankment of the dam, a 6-ft-long non-overflow abutment, a 570–ft-long concrete overflow spillway, an 85-ft-long section containing a gated spillway section with four 9-by-9-ft steel roller flood gates and the abandoned fishway facilities, a 20-ft-long non-overflow section containing the exit of the upstream fishway, and a 76-ft-long forebay entrance deck located immediately upstream of the powerhouse. The impoundment has a surface area of 270 acres, with a normal headpond elevation of 148.2 ft (top of flashboards) (BHEC, 1998). The impoundment is approximately 4.7 miles long and extends from the dam to the upstream area of Lowell Island (BHEC, 1998).

Revitalized shoreline and boat launch adjacent to the site of the future Howland Bypass

Hands on Conservation! Check out artwork by Penobscot Valley High School art students in Howland, led by teacher Courtney Robbins and inspired by the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

Aerial view of Howland Dam with Katahdin in background. Photo made possible by LightHawk

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