North Carolina’s Lassiter Mill Dam Removed


Two excavators, chisel and dig to remove Lassiter
Mill Dam in the Uwharrie River in Randolph County, North Carolina. This structure was
200 feet long and stood 12 feet high as part of a grits mill operation dating back to 1805. Prior to demolition, The Lassiter mill building
collapsed on its own, but the concrete structure was still standing, creating a wall that turned
the free-flowing river into a stagnant pond — too slow, too deep, and too silty for the
mussels and fish that need the natural, shallow, fast flowing water to survive. But all this changed on August 27, 2013 when
demolition began. The goal: to restore the health of the river. A team of biologists that surveyed the area
in May confirmed the presence of rare aquatic wonders unique to the Piedmont region of central
North Carolina. The Uwharrie River is habitat for sixteen species of fish, mussels and salamanders
that are considered rare, threatened or endangered. Removing Lassiter Mill Dam opened up 189 river
miles. A popular fish that will benefit from this
restoration is the savory American shad. Indeed, the shad are coming! In the next few years, Duke Energy-Progress
plans to trap and transport over 20,000 American shad and release the fish into the Pee Dee
River above areas currently blocked. Two more dams in the same watershed are scheduled
for removal within the next year to fully reconnect the Uwharrie River. A strong and partnership between many organizations
made this restoration project possible and we hope to see many more obsolete dams removed
in NC and throughout the southeast region.

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