Removing dams on the Middle Fork of the Holston River


In the Upper Tennessee River Basin, fish
and mussels are threatened by poor water quality and loss of habitat. Part of the
problem lies with the many dams that impede the river’s natural flow of fresh
water severely alter river habitat. With this in mind the US Fish and
Wildlife Service in cooperation with the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and the
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries began project removing dams at
an abandoned ice plant in Marion, Virginia. On the Middle Fork of the
Holston River, the service worked with partners, which included local landowners and the
town of Marion, to remove the decrepit factory and a partially breached dam,
improving one of this country’s most diverse aquatic systems. This project
helped the river return to its natural state and opened up many miles for
aquatic species and community recreation. We’re removing the former Marion ice plant dam on the middle fork of the Holston river to benefit aquatic
resources. We’ve got approximately eight federally listed species in this water.
This project is also part of the Upper Tennessee River Basin and so this
is a great tie-in to the new Upper Tennessee River Basin strategic plan.
-There is a huge economic benefit by removing barriers to fish movement you know, most
barriers have flooding issues associated with them so you will reduce the risk and impact
of flooding as with hurricane sandy, here in the Northeast we had a substantial
economic impact when that storm hit, and there’s a lot of flooding associated
with this and some of that just… you get a lot of rainfall, flooding gonna happen but when
you have structures that can’t handle the water volume it starts to destroy road
systems too. -I think this project is a good example of how community
development and enhancing habitat for trust resources can really go hand in
hand. The town is excited because we opened up
the fifteen miles through the headwaters of the Middle Fork–so we’ve opened it up to
community development through recreation, recreational fishing, kayaking, paddling,
so they’re looking forward to a lot more business in this area in the town, and we
of course have service are looking forward to more habitat for our trust
resources.

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