7000 Reasons to Remove a Small, Outdated Dam


Lassiter Mill dam removal project partners, Uwharrie River, NC | © USFWS

The Lassiter Mill Dam removal would never have happened without the collaboration between all our project partners | © United States Fish & Wildlife Service

This week we took another step in restoring the rivers of North Carolina by removing the Lassiter Mill Dam on the Uwharrie River. This project, which American Rivers has actively supported for more than four years from the design phase through deconstruction, is the continuation of a great partnership between American Rivers, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Piedmont Conservation Council. Last year we successfully removed two dams in the watershed and the Lassiter Dam was the next outdated barrier to be removed.

The removal of this grist mill dam dating back to 1805 will have an incredible benefit to the river system. The Uwharrie is one of two major tributaries above Tillery Dam hydropower dam operated by Duke Energy Progress on the Pee Dee River. In the next few years, Duke Energy-Progress plans to trap and transport over 20,000 American shad and release the fish into the Pee Dee River above Lake Tillery, where the Uwharrie River joins.  Removing the small, outdated Lassiter Mill dam will open up an additional 15 miles of the Uwharrie River’s main stem and 189 miles of perennial streams, enough habitat to support an additional 7,000 shad.

This project was funded jointly by the USFWS’ Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Community-based Restoration Program and Fish America Foundation with additional support for staff time coming from the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation and individual donors. The USFWS’ Fish Passage Fisheries Program provided funding for heavy equipment for dam deconstruction. Uniquely, within the southeast, the Service has created its own in-house dam removal team to conduct restoration work saving substantial costs that allows more projects to be implemented in streams and river systems.

Lassiter Mill dam removal project in the news: