Here’s a short music video I made following a preliminary reconnaissance trip on the Deep River hosted by Restoration Systems for the NC Division of Water Quality. Three years later, in 2006, we removed the Carbonton Dam in order to restore the area through which we are traveling from impoundment to natural river. The lowered impoundment revealed rapids and channel features not seen since the early 1800s. The newly restored river has subsequently thrived, including the re-establishment of the federal listed Threatened and Endangered Cape Fear Shiner, which was reported nationwide.
New faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill spent the week after Commencement on the Road, getting to know the state and its people a little better. May 12th – 16th marked the 11th Annual Tar Heel Bus Tour. The idea of the bus tour is a way to teach new faculty about NC, its needs and where most of Carolina’s undergraduates grow up. This year the Institute of the Environment department at UNC was able to choose a site to visit. They chose RS’ Carbonton Dam project site.
Present day Carbonton.
The bus arriving at Carbonton Dam Park.
George Howard addressing the group
Dickie Harrison of Deep River Parks Association (keeper of the Carbonton Dam Park), Uncle Larry and Barrett Jenkins.
Adam Riggsbee addressing the group.
On April 10th, 2008, RS had an important visit from Dr. Mark Sudol, the Chief of the Regulatory Branch at the Headquarters of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Dr. Sudol oversees the Corps wetland permitting program and works on policy and guidance at the national level. This was a unique and welcomed opportunity for RS to showcase our projects to someone with real influence to direct policy. Dr. Sudol visited Causey Farm, Carbonton Dam, Bear Creek and Holly Grove.
In the spring of 2007, North Carolina State University researchers set up a resistance board weir at the former Lowell Mill Dam site to monitor upstream and downstream migrations.
Continue reading for the study-
The Little River originates in Franklin County, North Carolina, and flows into the Neuse River near Goldsboro
Three dams have been removed since 1998, while a notched and impassable dam still remain
Both anadromous species, such as American shad, and year-round resident species, including suckers and gizzard shad, have annual spawning migrations in the river
In the spring of 2007, North Carolina State University researchers set up a resistance board weir at the former Lowell Mill Dam site to monitor upstream and downstream migrations
Upstream electrofishing provided additional information on fish locations
American shad abundance was compared to two “rule-of-thumb” estimates of run size for a restored population (conservative: 7 adults/ha; optimistic: 124 adults/ha)
Eggs and larvae were collected with plankton nets on the Little River and one Buffalo Creek site.
Migratory American Shad (502), gizzard shad (302), notchlip redhorse (58) were the most abundant fish collected in the weir
Largemouth bass, sunfishes, channel catfish, and additional species were also sampled
American & gizzard shad migrated to Atkinson Mill Dam, the maximum extent of restored habitat
Flow was important for migrations, as species migrated in highest numbers during increased flow periods
Total American shad abundance (508) was higher than the conservative estimate but drastically lower than the optimistic estimate for the reach below of Atkinson Mill Dam
American shad spawning was confirmed by eggs and larvae collected both downstream and upstream of the weir site
Fish, especially migratory species, are utilizing restored habitat following dam removals on the Little River
Since dam removals began in 1998, it may be too early to see overall population responses
River flow may annually influence the extent that fish migrate upstream and use restored habitat
For 2008, the weir will be moved downstream in order to sample the entire river
In addition, fish will receive permanent PIT identification tags. Passive and active tracking of these fish will provide detailed information about migration and spawning habitat
Finally, fish passage or hindrance at the notched dam will also be evaluated
Joshua K. Raabe, Graduate Research Assistant., PhD candidate
Joseph E. Hightower, Professor, Assistant Unit Leader
Tim Savidge, an Envrionmental Supervisor with The Catena Group, has reported back to RS with some very exciting news about the site of the former Carbonton Dam. His crew delved into the Deep River yesterday to monitor the site and found Cape Fear Shiner at multiple sites (where colonization was originally expected) within the upper part of the former reservoir pool between Glendon Carthage Road and Carbonton Road. Some sites had several individuals (>15). The crew will continue to work the stretch from Carbonton Road to the former dam today and will report back shortly with their findings.
A little background on the Cape Fear Shiner
The Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas), listed on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and threatened species list, was first described as a new species in 1971. It is a small (approximately 2 inches long), yellowish minnow with a black band along the sides of its body. The shiner’s fins are yellow and somewhat pointed. It has a black upper lip, and the lower lip bears a thin black bar along its margin. The Cape Fear shiner is known to consume plant and animal material
The Cape Fear shiner is endemic to the upper Cape Fear River Basin in the Central Piedmont of North Carolina. The species is known from tributaries and mainstreams of the Deep, Haw and Rocky Rivers in Chatham, Harnett, Lee, Moore and Randolph counties. Only five populations of the shiner are thought to exist. A population is designated when groups are separated by natural barriers or manmade obstructions such as dams. Two of the five remaining populations are very small and unstable and therefore at risk of extirpation. The precise number of shiners in each population is not known, but effective population sizes in the other three populations are estimated to be between 1500 and 3000 individuals. However, effective population sizes only consider the number of available breeding individuals.
To read more about the Cape Fear Shiner on the the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website, please click here.
I drove down to the Lowell Dam, uh, former Lowell Dam, to see how the restoration of the river and dam site were progressing.
Here is a panorama photo of the dam in the summer of 2004:
And here is site of the former dam today from left to right…
I apoligize for the changes in perspective (and we are working on the ability to enlarge photos) but I think you can get the picture. It looks pretty good. The river is restoring.
Here are some more photos. Remember, the dam was 11 feet high and upstream was an 11 foot deep lake — for two centuries.