Mission Moment – The Rivers Initiative

From Ciona Ulbrich, Senior Project Manager

This mission moment takes us to the Bagaduce River in Hancock county, a relatively small river that runs through Sedgwick Brooksville, Penobscot, and Castine before it flows into Penobscot bay.

This river was one of MCHT’s 13 original “Whole Places,” or focus areas, from 1999 when those were first created. The evolution of this Whole Place demonstrates how the work at MCHT constantly evolves in order to better serve our mission.

The Whole Place river was changed to encompass the watershed and its natural functions and systems. And then the Whole Place goals changed to include the people and the communities around the watershed. Thanks to our Rivers Initiative, the Whole Place goals changed again, and staff started to look not only at the land, but also at the waters and the fish and life in them today.

Thanks to a collaborative multi-year effort, this river is the first entire watershed in Maine to have been fully restored for fish passage.

Then, thanks to a donor, MCHT collaborated with the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries and a young videographer who had grown up in a town in this watershed — but had never heard of an alewife before five years ago — to collect voices and then create a way of telling the story of this work and continue the outreach and awareness building. This film has played in schools in theaters and was part of the Maine Outdoor Film Festival.

This collaborative rivers work focused on fish passage restoration is now being done by many organizations up and down the coast and MCHT continues it on five priority rivers.

As a long timer at this work, I can speak from the heart in saying that these fishway projects have enriched and shifted our presence in these communities and this longtime Whole Place.


“A Watershed Moment” follows the multi-year, multi-group effort to restore fish passage in the Bagaduce River Watershed—a story to inspire hope in nature’s resilience and the power of partnership. Watch the entire film here!

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