GOLDSBORO — Years ago, North Carolina built dams to collect and feed water to growing cities and towns. Now some of those dams are becoming obsolete as alternative sources are found. The new philosophy on old dams is take them down.
The Little River dam is one of James Stokes' favorite fishing spots in Wayne County. Even on a hot day, he can sit in the shade and reel in his dinner.
"You've got bass, crappy, bream, catfish, rock bear," Stokes goes on. "You can catch it all."
But while the dam may improve fishing in at least one spot, it's in the way of fish who migrate upstream every year.
The state built the dam in 1949 to supply water to Cherry Hospital, but the facility doesn't need it anymore. So, during the next few weeks the dam will come down.
"We're going to actually be able to open up, according to our estimates, about 55 miles of waters to striped bass, hickory shad and any number of other commercial and recreational fish," says Don Reuter of NC Environment and Natural Resources.
State leaders drew national praise last autumn for starting demolition of the nearby Quaker Neck dam. It was the first dam in the country to be destroyed for the sole purpose of improving the environment. Sportsmen like Frank Mitchell say the change in thinking is good news for everyone on the water.
"I can see that people are really getting in tune with nature and trying to get things back to the way they were years ago," Mitchell explains, "and that will help get the population of the fish back up. Little things like this do add up."