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Maine to raise funds for salmon recovery with new program

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine is launching a new program to help pay for conservation work that benefits Atlantic salmon with money from fees for road and bridge projects.

Salmon were once abundant in the rivers of New England, but they are now listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act after years of habitat loss and overfishing. The Atlantic Salmon Restoration and Conservation Program can help support the fish’s recovery, the Maine Department of Marine Resources said.

The program will allow public and private organizations working on road and bridge projects to pay a fee in lieu of environmental mitigation efforts that are required by law, the department said. Sean Ledwin, director of the sea-run fisheries division at the marine department, said the money will be used to “restore and enhance salmon habitat in Maine.”

Money generated by the program will be administered by the state and used for projects that have “a high probability of improving habitat and recovery for Atlantic salmon,” the department said in a statement.

Maine’s most active location for salmon is the Penobscot River, which is home to America’s largest remaining run of the fish. The number of salmon returning to the river every year is closely monitored and has mostly wavered between a few hundred and 2,000 over the past 10 years.

The salmon program was made possible by an agreement between the state, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state officials said.

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