Smitherman’s Dam Removal and Little River Restoration Project

It’s a great day here today, beautiful day.
It’s a beautiful day for us, but its also a beautiful day for fish and aquatic wildlife
here in the Little River as we’ve taken out this dam which blocked, for decades, fish
moving upstream from their native spawning habitat. This is very exiting. It’s going to open up
a good portion of the river and Denson’s Creek that you could probably take a canoe and go
a few miles up and down. So that’s exciting and will be a blessing for us in the future. I was raised in a little community called
Okeewemee, maybe 5 miles from here, but I was raised in there and in my boyhood days
I traveled up and down these streams, Densons Creek and Little River barefooted and having
a great time. Now, we have trails up and down this river
and the creek and sometimes you get out there and you feel like you are a thousand miles
away from anyone and its really, really pretty We are looking at a series of dam removals
and fish passage projects along these streams that are going to open-up this habitat for
several At-Risk Species of fish and mussels. It’s a great partnership it involves the city
of Troy, North Carolina, and other programs, Department of Parks and a whole host of partners
all contributing bits and pieces of these mayor projects that are goanna really improve
the habitat in this watershed. Last year we took down Dynamo Dam here renting
local equipment and using fisheries and refuge employees to take out this structure in under
a day. These projects will open up 55 main stem miles
and over 350 tributary miles to the benefit of endemic mussels and diadromous species
such as American Eel, American Chad and Blueback herring. Another reason we do stream restoration, river
restoration by removing barriers such as dams, is to provide better fishing quality for anglers.
Where above the dam it was just sediment laden and it was not good fishing habitat so once
you remove the barrier slowly over time the sediment will dissolve and the substrate will
be back to provide great fish habitat. It’s also a great opportunity for people who
are paddling the river. Where we once had this obstruction that prevented them from
paddling down-actually endangered them in some of the dangerous currents bellow the
dam- with this obstruction removed people can now paddle through and there is actually
a new access point also been put in here. We are really excited about what this means
for the river and the people in this area to be able to use the river. We want to thank
all the partners involved with this including the city of Troy, US Fish and Wildlife Service
and many others that have been involved.

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