Downeast Salmon Federation Has Been Awarded Three Grants

Downeast Salmon Federation has been awarded three major grants in support of our holistic ecosystem approach to restoring the endangered Atlantic salmon and other species of sea-run fish. Salmon, river herring, shad, smelt, eel, and other native species once swam up Maine rivers in vast numbers. These fish provided jobs and food for families, and played an important role in of the fabric of life in eastern Maine. However, centuries of damming, polluting, and harmful treatment of our rivers and lakes has resulted in catastrophic declines in all sea-run fish species.

DSF’s work is to bring them back—to restore that part of our natural world and heritage. Each  of these grants will bring us closer to this goal. 

“There’s lots of work to be done before our rivers and lakes teem with fish like they did in the old days,” says Dwayne Shaw, the Downeast Salmon Federation’s executive director, “but these generous organizations are bringing us closer to the day when our kids can drop a line into the water and pull out a spanking big fish.”

Patagonia has recently awarded $10,000 to Downeast Salmon Federation to purchase equipment for in-stream restoration work. These funds will go toward purchasing items such as grip-hoists, a capstan winch, and a pneumatic pile driver. This award will also enable DSF to restore critical fish habitat by reintroducing trees to the river. Trees provide the fish with protection from predators, and river currents press against these trees, scouring the river bottom and creating deep, cold water pools where fish like salmon and brook trout can survive the summer’s heat. Trees also add nutrients to the river—fungi and algae eat the wood (carbohydrates), bugs eat the fungi and algae, and fish eat the bugs.

The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund is awarding over $20,000 for water quality habitat restoration. This entails placing clamshells in the water in order to decrease acidity and increase dissolved calcium and alkaloids. In addition to this, the Onion Foundation is awarding DSF with a grant of $5,000 for this critical habitat restoration work. These grants from the Onion Foundation and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund will help us to improve water quality in a tributary of the East Machias River. Following a century of acid rain, our waters and soils have become acidic and have been stripped of important nutrients, such as calcium which helps to neutralize acidity. This combination of high acidity and lack of nutrients can kill fish if conditions are bad enough. Even mild concentrations of acidity and a lack of natural nutrients can injure and stunt fish. DSF will use clam shells from local producers--who otherwise would have to pay to dispose of them at the local dump--to replace lost calcium in the water. 

“These investments in the habitat restoration programs of DSF illustrate that eastern Maine is quickly becoming a national leader in community-based fisheries innovation,” says Shaw. “Our partners in Iceland, the U.K., Maine, and throughout the U.S. see the success of our stocking and hatchery program and understand the strength of the non-governmental private sector to the future of our fisheries and Downeast economy.”

To help support the work of Downeast Salmon Federation, you can make a donation online at, by mailing a check to Downeast Salmon Federation, P.O. Box 201, Columbia Falls, Maine 04623, or by calling DSF at (207)483-4336.