Back in 2001, American Whitewater was part of a diverse group of local, regional, and national
interests that began meeting with Duke Energy to collaborate on a new plan for operating their
dams in the Tuckasegee and Nantahala watersheds. The outcome of those negotiations was a
comprehensive settlement agreement that Duke submitted as their application for new operating
licenses. The agreement called for the removal of Dillsboro Dam and subsequent watershed
enhancements like enhanced flow releases, new public river access areas, new parks and trails and
Unfortunately, the removal of Dillsboro Dam became a controversial issue and the resulting conflict delayed the river restoration and enhancement project for well over three years.
Today, the removal of Dillsboro Dam is complete! Work will continue over the next few months to restore and stabilize the river banks. In place of an outdated and uneconomic dam (the dam had not produced power in over 4 years), there are two "new" ledges on the river. A yellow silt curtain (visible in the photo above) will remain across the main part of the river until the restoration work is completed, probably a couple of more months. For paddlers who wish to paddle this section of river, the silt curtain has an opening on the far river right side for boats to pass through.
The settlement agreement also calls for scheduled releases on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee (a class IV romp through a long de-watered gorge) and the Upper Nantahala. The scheduling of these release is unknown at this time and is dependent on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) moving forward on the process that will lead to the issuance of new licenses for the remaining Nantahala and Tuckasegee Hydro Projects.
We would like to thank the many members and paddlers that have supported this river restoration initiative over the past nine years, including a special thanks to the Carolina Canoe Club and Western Carolina Paddlers. American Whitewater has been a vocal and leading advocate for the restoration of the Tuckasegee throughout this project and would like to recognize specific project funding from KEEN and the Conservation Alliance.