North Carolina, Neuse River Basin Dam Removal Paying Dividends for Anadromous Fish

Anadromous fish are those, such as shad, that return to freshwater to spawn after spending part of their lives in the ocean. Bennett Wynne, the North Carollina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator is quoted as saying “In the Neuse River, hickory shad have been more abundant. Last week, we picked up a few around Goldsboro, along with some American shad. I am cautiously optimistic about shad numbers. Removing dams is important to both species but more so for American shad because they prefer spawning on the rockier substrate above the fall line. Most of the hickory shad population is found from Kinston downstream, where Pitchkettle Creek is the historical place where fishermen catch them. Last year we had strong flows in the river and we saw a good turnout of anglers at Milburnie Dam near Raleigh in Wake County. It is great that we can have a fishery for shad that far inland.”

Helping Out Kids and the Swamp Merchant

Restoration Systems’ Rookie of the Year, Ray Holz, and his roomate buddy, Wes Aycock, made an extraordinarily generous contribution recently to my children’s school. Ray and Wes help us rock and mulch the playground area at Joyner Elementary here in Raleigh.

These young men, I am absolutely certain, had other opportunities to spend their time early that Saturday morning — like sleeping. But instead they helped our school grounds committee beautify this kid-trampled chase-and-tag tract (cattle “hoof shear” comes to mind).

Ray’s contribution to the project did not begin that day, however. For nearly a year Ray has worked with Meriwether Hill, our committee chair, preparing drawings and estimates for the school’s application to the City of Raleigh for funds to solve Joyner’s persistent stormwater problems. He is a NC State trained Landscape Architect and his work planning the project was instrumental in Joyner being awarded….nearly forty thousand dollars!

Over the next few months Joyner will transform the hydrology of the playground and other areas behind our school with thoughtfully designed stormwater conveyances and rain gardens, as well as eradicating invasive species and weeds (a Ray Holz specialty) at the school.

Seeing that Ray has no child at Joyner, cynics may guess he is simply sucking up to the boss. Cynics would be wrong. For one, how would they explain the assistance of his buddy, Wes? I don’t recall managing to drag a roomate out of bed in my twenties simply to help me curry favor at work.

Indeed, Wes, like Ray, is simply working for his passion — and the kids. Wes has a new company, Green Roots Environmental Design, specializing in all-native plant landscaping

The truth is that these two guys are just good eggs — eager to help do whatever they do well. Stories From The Field will follow the improvements out at Joyner Elementary; progress which is in large part thanks to these gentlemen.

Video: RS makes case for removing the Milburnie Dam on the Neuse in Raleigh

Tweet This! RALEIGH, N.C. –
A group of residents is fighting against proposed changes to the Neuse River in Raleigh.
Raleigh-based Restoration Systems is proposing to remove the Milburnie Dam, which sits about 15 miles downstream from Falls Lake.

But some residents who live along the river say they don’t want to see the dam removed.
“Canoeing isn’t going to be as much fun. There’s not going to be any boating possible any more,” said resident Gina da Roza, who fears water levels in the river will drop when the dam is removed.

She said there are also concerns about changing the water quality if the dam is removed.
“The water moves freely here. It’s very wide, the water’s clean,” she said.

She also said there are more Greenway trails planned for that area of Raleigh, and she said changing the environment there will discourage people from using the trails.

Restoration Systems President George Howard said the river is just going to be restored to its original state.
“The river’s not going anywhere,” he said.

Howard, who said his company has had success with other dam removal projects, said removing the Milburnie Dam will create a more free-flowing body of water that will help the fish population and improve water quality.

He said the company will pay for removing the dam, and then plans to sell credits to developers.
Howard admitted the river level might drop during the summer months, but said the river probably won’t look much different in the winter.

“In the summer it’s going to get somewhat lower, and that might keep you from getting motor boats out on the river, but the river wasn’t intended for motor boats originally,” he said.

In 2002, a group of state agencies said removing the dam was a priority.

Public comment is due by April 22 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will have to approve removing the dam.