Businesses and towns along the Penobscot River, neighboring the Penobscot Nation's land, are turning attention to a lawsuit by the Indian nation against Maine Attorney General William Schneider.
The lawsuit aims to prevent Maine game wardens from policing waters and preventing tribal members from sustenance fishing, according to the Bangor Daily News, but the Portland lawyer opposing that argument told the paper that the implications for neighbors along the river could affect discharge rights.
If the court upholds the Penobscot Nation's rights to the 55-mile stretch of river waters, it could make everyone upriver subject to regulation from the Penobscot Nation and the state, Pierce Atwood attorney Matthew Manahan told the BDN,.
Manahan told the paper he is pulling together a coalition of municipalities and businesses that could be affected by such a ruling. The town of Millinocket and Lincoln Tissue and Paper are among the parties that have agreed to contribute to legal fees for the coalition, according to the BDN.
Doug Walsh, executive vice president of Lincoln Tissue and Paper, told the BDN that the company is worried about losing its current rights to discharge into the river.
Neither Millinocket nor Lincoln Tissue and Paper disclosed how much they are contributing to the legal effort so far and other area towns — including Bucksport and Lincoln — have expressed interest in joining the state as intervenors in the lawsuit without any financial commitment.
Manahan told the paper that he hopes to represent Brownville, Bucksport, Danforth, Guilford, Mattawamkeag, Millinocket, Milo, East Millinocket and Sangerville.