The new River Grant Program was approved by the voters in November of 2007. The $5M bond was created to promote development and economic revitalization along Maine’s rivers. There are 14 communities state wide that were awarded grants.
Three selectmen from the town as well as staff and board members from the Columbia Falls based non-profit DSF traveled to Augusta to receive the award from the Governor. The funds will be used to complete the renovations of the former Bangor Hydro Electric building on the banks of the East Machias River. The grant will help transform what was an abandoned concrete block building into a state of the art fresh water aquatic research center, conservation hatchery, and community fisheries center. The renovation of the donated building is a project of the DSF in close partnership with the town of East Machias, Washington Academy, The University of Maine at Machias and others. The 7,262 sq ft EMARC facility will include a fresh water flow through research and fisheries enhancement hatchery, a museum and visitors center, an archival storage room, a wet lab/ classroom, a certified water quality lab, a GIS and technical resources center, and office space for staff, students, volunteers and visiting researchers. DSF intends to allow public use of the space for area clubs and will provide restroom facilities for users of the new Downeast Sunrise Trail which adjoins the property.
When completed, the Center will provide high quality jobs, educational opportunities to regional students and solutions to help solve local fisheries issues. The visitors center will provide information about the history, ecology and conservation of the important river and fisheries resources of Washington County.
The River Bond grant will be matched with $100,000 in private funds and donations raised by DSF. Additional donations will be needed to meet the requirements of this and future grants. Interested parties may contact DSF by visiting the website: mainesalmonrivers.com or by calling 483-4336.