MISSION & HISTORY.
Downeast Salmon Federation’s mission is to conserve wild Atlantic salmon, other sea-run fish and their habitats, restore a viable recreational salmon fishery, and protect other important river, scenic, recreational, and ecological resources in eastern Maine.
Since its inception in 1982, DSF has coordinated numerous in-stream and buffer restoration projects; created and maintained two world-class conservation hatcheries and salmon stocking programs founded on the principles of noted Scottish biologist Peter Gray. The organization has guided advocacy, education, and outreach on sustainable fisheries, communities, and the economy at local, state, and federal levels.
The DSF service area is primarily Washington and Hancock County–the most fisheries-dependent economic development region along the Atlantic coast of the United States. There are more commercial fishing license holders per capita here than anywhere else in the region. Similarly, interior Washington County has the highest concentration of Registered Maine Guides in the state. DSF is as a statewide leader in Atlantic Salmon conservation.
Our approach is river-centric, focused on the watersheds and communities of the five Downeast rivers with remnant wild Atlantic salmon populations. The Dennys, East Machias, Machias, Pleasant, and Narraguagus. Downeast rivers offer the last best hope for wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S.
We were instrumental in removing dams on the Pleasant and East Machias Rivers, and received the National Coastal America Partnership Award for transforming two blighted buildings into state-of-the-art conservation hatcheries, research and education centers.
Just as a healthy salmon population cannot be separated from its habitat, the mission of the Downeast Salmon Federation is vitally inter-connected with the natural and human ecology of its region.
Atlantic salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. That same year, DSF created the Downeast Salmon Federation Land Trust to protect habitat for salmon and other fishes along the five major Downeast rivers.
The land trust was conceived in response to the federal listing and absence of a local land trust with river-centric focus or capacity, and has since completed more than 30 projects and permanently protected 5,838 acres and 42 miles of riparian properties through fee simple or conservation easement and most are available for public use.
Of highest priority are spawning and rearing habitat, holding and historic fishing pools, cold water resources, and fish passage restrictions. We also prioritize land trust projects with significant recreational or cultural value, such as small craft access sites, portage trails, smelt brooks, swimming holes, and waterfalls.