We were excited to see a (rather dry but) important report summary confirming the ecological success of Restoration Systems’ 2006 Carbonton Dam removal project. The successful re-population of the Deep River and Carbonton Dam impoundment by the threatened Cape Fear Shiner was documented by The Catena Group under contract to Restoration Systems and reported nationwide in a 2007 article that ran on the AP wire. A careful reading of the article, however, reveals that not everyone was totally convinced the Cape Fear Shiner was rebounding due to Restoration Systems’ removal of the dam:
State officials are still awaiting the company’s annual report, documenting the endangered shiner’s return. But as a sign of improving water quality and nature revived, it is welcome news, said Tad Boggs of the state’s ecosystem enhancement program.
“Assuming it’s accurate, it represents a win-win situation for what our program is designed to do,” said Boggs, whose agency has supervised about 700 such projects statewide since its creation four years ago.
“Assuming it’s accurate”??!! Well, rest assured, it’s accurate. The project has been under independent evaluation by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and N.C. State University since the removal was completed in 2006. According to an annual report submitted by the NCWRC to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we’ve managed to repopulate the river with a fish that was nearly extinct. Our independent monitoring confirmed this success some time ago, as was reported, but it is nice to see it further memorialized. There were no Cape Fear Shiner. Now there are. Enjoy.
Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas) [federal – endangered]: Staff have been evaluating the effects of removing the Carbonton Dam on the Cape Fear shiner. The NCWRC, North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the Museum of Natural Sciences have continued a multi-year study of the effects of removing the Carbonton Dam. The dam was located on the Deep River (upper Cape Fear River Basin) along the Chatham/Lee County line near Hwy 42. The objectives of this study are to determine the short- and long-term effects of dam removal on freshwater mussels and fishes by pre- and post-removal monitoring of their abundance and diversity within the tailrace, impoundment, and at reference sites. Changes in fish populations are being quantified to document any downstream impacts as well as recovery of riverine fauna within the former impoundment. So far, we have captured a total of 43 species of fish, including the Cape Fear shiner. Our sampling has documented the Cape Fear Shiner at all sites including the former impoundment. Consultants contracted by the NCWRC have completed a final report on the current distribution of Cape Fear shiner in the Cape Fear River Basin. Cape Fear shiner populations appear to be stable. Individuals were also collected in the Haw and mainstem Cape Fear Rivers for the first time in several years. The final report was prepared and is available for review in the Section 6 project files in Raleigh. — From 2009 Annual Performance Report on Endangered Species, Submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission