The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed an 83-foot dam on a Montgomery County creek Wednesday as part of its effort to improve habitat for rare aquatic animals.
The retired dam on Densons Creek, a tributary of the Little River, was built more than 50 years ago to supply water for the town of Troy. The town owns a 173-acre nature preserve around the site.
Removing it opens three miles of streams to fish and other animals whose movements it blocked. Among them are the Savannah lilliput and four other state-endangered mussels, a fish called the Carolina redhorse and American eels.
Fish and Wildlife worked with the advocacy group American Rivers and others, including local landowners, on the project. Its part of a larger effort to restore the streams of the Little River watershed, which flows to the larger Pee Dee River.
In removing a decrepit dam, we gain a tremendous amount of habitat restoration for relatively little effort, said project manager Laura Fogo, a Fish and Wildlife biologist. A privately owned dam nearby also was removed this week.
Dams were built across the state in the past two centuries to power mills. Now many are obsolete but still block the passage of migratory fish such as eels, limiting them to a fraction of their historic range.
The 1997 removal of the Quaker Neck dam on the Neuse River southeast of Raleigh began a move to take out small, unused dams across the state.