A happy press release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service: The last time an alewife reached Kennebec County’s China Lake under its own steam – in 1783 — Maine was part of Massachusetts and the Revolutionary War had just ended.
That is until this spring, when hundreds of thousands of the migratory fish swam the seven miles from the Sebasticook River to China Lake to spawn, after more than two centuries of being absent. With six dams removed or modified for fish passage, the stream’s historical alewife run is being resurrected.
In coming years, returning alewife numbers could grow to a million, and China Lake Outlet Stream, whose dams powered flour, lumber, and textile mills long ago, could once again contribute to the local economy through a commercial harvest and nature tourism. Healthier wildlife and cleaner water are also perks.