N&O: Residents argue that removing Milburnie Dam would ruin scenery

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Thu, Apr 22, 2010 05:36 AM
In Fight Over Dam Sides Ask: What’s Natural?

RALEIGH For more than a century, Milburnie Dam has stood 16 feet high in the middle of Raleigh, a stone wall that interrupts the Neuse River like an aquatic comma. Above it, motorboats troll through deep water; below, fishermen wade around a pounding waterfall.

Now a Raleigh firm that does environmental work wants to tear out the privately owned dam and let the Neuse flow freely, removing the only man-made obstacle between Falls Lake and Pamlico Sound. Doing so, they say, would bring shad and other fish further upriver and improve the water quality by speeding up a slowed-down Neuse.

In Fight Over Dam Sides Ask: What’s Natural?
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New Photos of RS' Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank — Year 8 Since Restoration

I enjoyed great weather today for a flight to take some pics of RS’ Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank straddling US 70 between Goldsboro and Kinston, NC. My family and I are staying with friends further east in Morehead City, and the nearby Beaufort, NC, airport is a convenient place to get up for some photos. Unfortunately, we had less than two hours for the flight and I was unable to photograph any other RS sites in the region.

But Bear Creek is special and can justify its own trip. It is the first project Restoration Systems put in the ground, in 2001. The wet and sloppy areas you see in these photos were bone-dry cornfields before we purchased, restored and protected the wetlands eight years ago. We planted twenty native species and 200,000 trees, as well as removed agricultural levees and backfilled major canals and drainage ditches. The Bear Creek bank and its associated site, Sleepy Creek, required the assemblage of over 1000 acres of property from more than twenty land owners at three locations in Lenoir and Craven Counties.

I look forward to putting up some “before and after” photos of Bear Creek. We have been taking photos of the mitigation bank since 1998 and can show in vivid detail the miracle of environmental restoration.

Feel free to click on a pic to be taken to Google Albums. From there you can play them full screen or download them!

Update: I put some photos of a ground reconnaissance hike we took at Bear Creek a little over a year ago:

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Carbonton Begins to See Biological Success

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

Now Showing at the Lowell Dam…

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.