CALAIS, Maine — The health of a major ecosystem along the U.S.-Canada border is receiving renewed interest this spring, as seven federal, state and international agencies are joining with Passamaquoddy Tribes and the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik to commit to improving water quality and wildlife habitat in the state of Maine and in New Brunswick, Canada.
On May 26, 2022, representatives from the agencies and Tribes and Nation will meet in Calais, Maine, to sign a Statement of Cooperation to “affirm their mutual objective to cooperate in the restoration of indigenous, sea-run fish” in the Skutik/St. Croix River watershed along the international border.
The St. Croix River is the longest stretch of freshwater along the U.S.-Canada border east of the Great Lakes, and is currently fragmented by dams along its 62-mile (100 km) length. If the watershed is completely reconnected, it could be home to the largest sea-run alewife migration in the U.S. The watershed is a significant food source and area of cultural significance to the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, and the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik. Its sustainability and health are also important to the water quality and local economies on both sides of the border.
A similar 2013 statement of cooperation included the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The May 26 signing will amend that original statement of cooperation to include the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik (New Brunswick), the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The state of cooperation signing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT, on May 26, 2022, at the Wabanaki Cultural Center, 398 Union St., Calais, Maine. The event is open to the public. Interested media should contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they plan to attend.
“Restoring and preserving the Skutik/St. Croix River watershed is a noble endeavor, of which DFO is proud to be a part. Today is a great day for this river, as well as for those who live near it and those who use it for ceremonial, recreational, and commercial purposes. The signing of this Statement of Cooperation marks yet another opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues and friends on both sides of the border to achieve our common goal of restoring sea-run fish, the watershed, and the ecosystem.” —Serge Doucet, Regional Director General, Gulf Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
“The Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik and Passamaquoddy Tribes have been responsible stewards of the Skutik River since time immemorial. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Maritimes Region is pleased to join them and our American partners in this statement of cooperation, which represents a meaningful step forward towards working nation-to-nation to protect our shared fisheries and waterways. We look forward to continuing our collaboration to protect the Skutik River and ensure its bounties can be enjoyed for generations to come.” —Doug Wentzell, Regional Director General, Maritimes Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to continue our support for aquatic connectivity and habitat restoration on the Skutik-St. Croix River. We are honored to participate in this growing collaboration of Indigenous partners, as well as the State of Maine and Federal agencies on both sides of the international boundary, as we work together on shared objectives for native fish and the communities that depend on them.” —Regional Director Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
“The St. Croix River can support the biggest runs of sea-run species in the region and provide substantial ecological and economic benefits. I know firsthand the value of collaboration, such as this, in efforts to restore our rivers and I’m proud to partner with this diverse and dedicated group of stewards of our state’s treasured resources.” —Patrick Keliher, Commissioner, Maine Department of Marine Resources
“Our ultimate goals of conserving, maintaining, and improving our natural resources and environment are closely aligned with that of the indigenous people. They seek to protect and manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner, and as conservationists, our team at NRCS understands and respects that approach.” —Matt Walker, Maine State Conservationist, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service
“We are all stewards of the Skutik/St. Croix River watershed. The signing of this Amended Statement reaffirms our commitment to working together to restore this culturally and ecologically important watershed.” —Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
“This cross-boundary international collaboration, involving federal, state, Peskotomuhkati Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribal representation, is an exemplary model of how bilateral partners can combine resources and expertise to advance the restoration efforts of the Skutik/St. Croix River watershed, and is in complete alignment with EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.” —David Cash, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 1