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Comments Needed Supporting Dillsboro Dam Removal (NC)

Posted: 10/17/2007
by Kevin Colburn

On September 25th, American Whitewater staff members Kevin Colburn and Mark Singleton spoke at a public hearing in Cullowhee, North Carolina, in support of removing Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River.  The hearing was held by the North Carlina Division of Water Quality to take public comment on the issue, prior to the agency issuing (or refusing to issue) a permit later this year for the removal of the dam.  The dam removal received the support of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this fall. 

Paddlers have emerged as leading grassroots advocates for the dam removal.  Proponents of the dam removal that spoke at the hearing in addition to AW included a local paddler, a raft company owner, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Duke Power, and several others.  The majority of the speakers however were opposed to the dam removal.

AW presented information focused on the river restoration process itself, stressing that the long term benefits of restoration initiatives far outweigh the short term impacts. 

If endorsed by the State of NC, the dam would be removed over the next 3 years, and would reconnect two currently isolated sections of the biologically diverse Tuckasegee River.  The removal would benefit fish and mussels by increasing the available habitat and eliminate a significant genetic barrier.  The removal would also benefit paddlers by restoring a river where today there is a mile-long sediment-filled reservoir, and also by eliminating a mandatory portage and creating new river access opportunities. 

The dam removal is also a key piece of the Comprehensive Relicensing Settlement Agreement that AW and many other groups signed regarding the management of the Tuckasegee and Nantahala rivers.  This agreement, if implemented, will bring a landmark change to these headwaters of the Little Tennessee River.  The dam removal must be approved before FERC will move ahead with licensing other dams in the system - and hence initiate new dam releases, land conservation, public access, and other enhancements.  AW remains committed to the settlement and the dam removal. 

American Whitewater has submitted written comments to the NC-DWQ that mirror our oral comments presented at the hearing.  They can be found in the "Documents" box to the right of this article. 

We ask that NC paddlers send a letter supporting the removal of Dillsboro Dam to the NC - DWQ, prior to OCTOBER 26th at:

Hearing Officer Steve Tedder

Care Of John Dorney

NC Division of Water Quality
401/Wetlands Unit
1650 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1650

You can also email comments (we assume) to Mr. Dorney at:    

Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC