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Smelt Brook cove, where DSF removed an abandoned dam to restore a salt marsh and access to fish habitat.


Listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act since 2000, Atlantic salmon in Maine are the last survivors of the wild Atlantic salmon runs that used to stretch as far south as Connecticut. Of the eight remaining salmon runs, five are located in Downeast Maine. DSF's unique conservation model of hatcheries has earned us the designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the only Non-Governmental Organization with a Section 10 permit for raising, rearing and releasing an Endangered Species.

Our partnerships cover a wide range of organizations whose focus supports our mission:

  • State and Federal Fisheries Agencies

  • Local Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Tribal Governments

  • Towns and Cities

  • Lake Associations

  • Land Owners

  • Immigrant Advocates

  • Private Foundations

Downeast Salmon Federation has a holistic perspective on Atlantic salmon recovery. We know recovery will not happen without long-term protection and meaningful enhancement of salmon habitat. Our community must also be engaged in recovery on the same timescale.

We have over 6000 acres of riparian land under conservation, and 34 miles of rivers.

​We are implementing the science of restoring an endangered species and its habit through field based projects:

  • Citizen science monitoring

  • Community based watershed stewardship

  • Rainbow Smelt data collection

  • River herring monitoring

  • River acidification reduction project

  • Salmon egg planting

  • Smolt counting

Habitat restoration is an integral part of bringing Atlantic salmon and other critical fish species’ populations back to where they should be. 


Healthy rivers make for a healthy ecosystem, rejuvenate the commercial fisheries, and also provide a wonderful source of eco-tourism and recreation for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and other activities. 


Conserved riparian habitat


Meeting at local brewery

Our approach to Engagement is encompassed in these deeply held beliefs:

  • Productive engagement and advocacy at all levels: community, state, and federal

  • Cultural and spiritual place-based ethics

  • Modern conservation hatchery research and stocking

  • Openness and information sharing with all sectors of society

  • Sharing of wealth and resources toward the common goal of managing and protecting salmon and sea-run fisheries in perpetuity.

Our Education programs with our partners the Cobscook Institute and the public school system, each year provide experiential learning to students through our River Camp and classroom Fish Friends programs.

Through mentoring, presentations and hands-on projects, students learn about caring for the environment and its ecosystems.


Washington Academy high schoolers help release salmon

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Protecting the World’s Most Endangered Species

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