Penobscot Watershed Conference

Sharing our Heritage, Challenges, and Future

Posted 2016-03-25

NORTHPORT, ME—As Maine’s largest river system, the Penobscot River carries a deep cultural and economic history of our region. The future health of this vast watershed will be discussed at the first Penobscot Watershed Conference, April 9, 8am-5pm at Point Lookout in Northport, Maine. We will kick off events Friday evening, April 8, at 6:30pm with a free pre-conference film screening and panel discussion hosted by the Island Institute and other local and regional non-profit organizations.

The public is invited to join with scientists, researchers, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, fishermen, and government representatives to discuss the past, present, and future state of the Penobscot watershed region — what needs to happen, what individuals might do, and recommendations for action. Pre-registration is encouraged for the one-day conference.

The conference features fascinating perspectives on the state of the watershed. Speakers include Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis, MacArthur Award-winning fisherman/scientist Ted Ames, and U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Attendees will also hear from lobstermen, lake protectors, timber products companies, Maine Maritime Academy, recreation, fisheries, and food experts, and many others.

“We wanted to bring together concerned community members for a conversation about sustainable economic development in the region—development that protects or even enhances ecosystem functions while simultaneously providing high quality of life for all people in the Penobscot watershed,” said Stephen Miller, Executive Director of Islesboro Islands Trust and chair of the conference planning committee, which includes representatives from 16 Maine organizations.

“The Penobscot River connects its inhabitants in many ways: physically, economically, socially, culturally, and in spirit. This conference is the first of its kind to bring together the entire watershed from its headwaters to the sea, to share ideas about how we can work together to protect, restore, and celebrate this great resource,” said John Banks, Director of the Penobscot Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources and member of the conference planning committee.

University of Maine professor and marine biologist Robert Steneck will give a keynote presentation about Penobscot Bay. This will be followed by six concurrent workshops on the themes of maritime heritage and industry, watershed economy, indicators of environmental health, collaborations, recreation and tourism, and environmental policy issues. The workshops will feature presentations and panel discussions by more than 70 experts from the watershed and beyond.

On Friday, April 8, the Island Institute and members of the conference planning committee will show the film, The Great Bear Sea: Reflecting on the Past—Planning for the Future. A panel of local and international experts will follow the film to discuss how Mainers can get involved in the Northeast regional ocean planning process. Doors open at 6:30pm with free movie snacks and a cash bar, and the free program starts at 7pm.

For more information on the draft conference program, and to register, visit.

For more information about The Great Bear Sea film screening, visit 

Media Contact: Marydale Abernathy, Island Institute, 207-594-9209, x140