Local News

Dam Destroyed to Nurture Neuse

Posted December 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— One of North Carolina's sickest rivers is feeling a little better, thanks to the work of a wrecking ball. The state began knocking down the Quaker Neck Dam Wednesday, which sits in the Neuse River near Goldsboro. For 45 years, the dam has interfered with wildlife along the Neuse river.

No one realized the seriousness of it until a federal study in 1989. The wall kept migrating shad and striped bass out of areas upstream, and forced populations of the fish to drop. Now the dam is being broken, and North Carolina's most notoriously damaged river is a little closer to health.

Bruce Babbitt of the Department of the Interior says that destroying the wall now should replenish the waters quickly and completely by restoring its fisheries.

The dam's destruction is getting national attention. Dams like the Quaker Neck aren't torn down every day. The opening will restore access for fish and boaters to more than 900 miles of tributaries.

"We're going to have an immediate return here, and it's real, the ecological benefits of this are real," explains Secretary Wayne McDevitt. "We're going to see those, but it's also a great symbol that goes beyond this state today and indeed all across the nation."

The American shad and striped bass tend to migrate up the river from March until May. The state is hoping that will happen this year on the Neuse.