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Tuckasegee Relicensing (NC)

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The Tuckasegee relicensing has radically improved recreational opportunities along 35 miles of the Class II main Tuck, as well as createda new whitewater resource on the Class IV+ West Fork Tuck. :stewardship:tuck_1.jpg

From 2001 through 2003 American Whitewater participated in an innovative negotiation process to decide the future operations of the dams on the Tuckasegee River and its forks. AW staff attended full-day meetings at least once a month for 3 years, and spent countless hours analyzing and assisting with studies, pouring over property maps, and developing proposals. We focused our efforts on whitewater paddling mitigation, the design of a environmental enhancement fund, and the removal of Dillsboro Dam. We worked closely with other stakeholders including our volunteers, the Carolina Canoe Club, local outfitters, Duke Power, and state and federal agencies throughout the process. Among the major achievements of the negotiations was the development of a flow regime for the Tuckasegee that met the ecological needs of the river and the interests of Duke Power, anglers, and paddlers.

Based on three years of work and negotiations, AW signed a settlement agreement in 2003 calling for sweeping environmental and recreational enhancements. Several local stakeholders backed out of the agreement at the last minute and challenged the agreement with the FERC and in court. These challenges focused on preventing the removal of Dillsboro Dam, cost a great deal of money, caused significant delays, and were ultimately unsuccessful. The dam was removed in 2008, and the licenses were issued for the projects in 2010. Access projects began almost immediately and in 2013 releases began on the West Fork.

The West Fork really is a cool creek run.Check out the WF Tuck Flow Study Video! Note that most of the video was filmed at the first lower flow. We had to do our second higher flow run very quickly and could not shoot much footage. The second flow was much better and ultimately the second flow was selected for future releases. Note also that the video calls the first release 250 cfs, and the second 350. Subsequent analysis of the flows revealed that the first release was really about 180 and the second around 250.

West Fork Tuck Beta and Alert (NC)

04/07/2014 - by Kevin Colburn

2014 marks the second year of restored paddling opportunities on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee.  The first of 7 releases this year will be on April 19 and 20, and we would like to share some important facts and lessons we’ve learned about the river to help paddlers know what to expect. First and foremost, be aware that this run requires Class IV/V skills and a commitment consistent with wilderness rivers given the remote nature of the gorge and private property.

West Fork Tuck Pre-Release Work Weekend Planned

03/05/2014 - by Kevin Colburn

In July of last year a natural high flow event occurred on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee, which had significant effects on wood in the river. These effects were overwhelmingly positive for paddlers, as high flow events tend to move pieces of wood to channel margins and into large accumulations.  With this said, the new patterns may pose isolated navigational hurdles or hazards, and have negatively affected some landowners. On March 29 and 30 paddlers will gather to conduct some limited management of problem pieces of wood in the West Fork.  

West Fork Tuck Releases Announced (NC)

02/12/2013 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater is pleased to announce the 2013 schedule of releases for the typically de-watered West Fork of the Tuckasegee River, located near Glenville, North Carolina.  These releases are the direct result of negotiations between American Whitewater, our affiliate clubs, Duke Energy and other regional stakeholders.  

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Tuckasegee Dams Get New Federal Licenses!

05/06/2011 - by Kevin Colburn

New river releases and public access areas are now set happen on the Tuckasegee River and its forks following a decade of studies, negotiations, lawsuits, and agency deliberation. Earlier this week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued new federal hydropower licenses for dams on the East and West Forks of the Tuckasegee River in western North Carolina.

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Judge Grants Permission for Dillsboro Dam Removal (NC)

01/12/2010 - by Kevin Colburn

Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Zoro J. Guice Jr. rejected all remaining legal challenges against Duke Energy's efforts to remove Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River.  It is extremely likely that the ruling is the final decision on the fate of Dillsboro Dam, and that removal will begin within a month.  This ruling marks a major milestone in the restoration of the Tuckasegee River. 

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County To Attempt Dillsboro Dam Takeover (NC)

06/10/2009 - by Kevin Colburn

Earlier this week Jackson County, NC county Commissioners decided to attempt a takeover of Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckaseegee River using their power of eminent domain, also known as condemnation. It remains unclear if they can legally accomplish this feat, however it is almost certain that this development will delay the restoration activities planned all along the Tuckaseegee River.  

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Dillsboro Dam Removal Approved

07/23/2007 - by Kevin Colburn

On Thursday, July 19th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a decision that will allow the removal of Dillsboro Dam. The removal of Dillsboro Dam is the result of over 3 years of collaborative studies and negotiations that addressed all of Duke Power's dams on the Tuckasegee and Nantahala rivers.  With this nod of approval from FERC, dam removal could begin as early as this January, and should be completed within three years. 

The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.

Title Name City
Kevin Colburn Missoula MT Details...


West Fork Tuckasegee FERC License (6/1/2012)

2011 License for the West Fork of the Tuckasegee.

Comments on Dillsboro Dam Removal Permits (10/17/2007)

AW letter requesting that the NC Division of Water Quality support the removal of Dillsboro Dam with the appropriate permits.

Tuckasegee River Paddling Recreational Instream Flow Study (12/10/2002)

Tuckasegee River Paddling Recreational Instream Flow Study East Fork, West Fork, and Dillsboro Hydroelectric Projects FERC #’s 2698, 2686, 2602 Dillsboro and Whittier Sections - July 2-3, 2001 West Fork By-Pass Section – May 9 and June 29, 2001 E

Tuckasegee River Angling Flow Study (12/10/2002)

Tuckasegee River Angling Flow Study East Fork, West Fork, and Dillsboro Hydroelectric Projects FERC #’s 2698, 2686, 2602 October 16-20, 2001

Klamath River Dam Removal Comments of American Whitewater (12/15/2019)

Overview of Recreation in Dam Removal and Project Decommissioning, December 16, 2019


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