HIGH FALLS DAM REMOVAL
MOORE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
High Falls Dam is an 800-foot-wide run of river dam located on the Deep River in Moore County, NC. An old mill dam, it was eventually converted into a hydroelectric dam and produced power until 2018. Unique Places purchased the dam in 2018 with the intention of producing power and exploring alternative ecological uses. The extensive repair work required on the dam and additional flooding during the 2018 hurricane season resulted in the power generation plant being permanently shut down.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated sections of the Deep River upstream and downstream from High Falls Dam as Critical Habitat for the Cape Fear Shiner, a federally listed endangered species. The non-impounded sections of the Deep River exhibit high-quality riverine habitat that supports a diverse collection of aquatic species including the Cape Fear Shiner and other species of concern. The dam represented a significant blockage to fish migration and as a result, USFWS has documented declines in the disconnected population upstream of the dam. Unique Places understands that removal of the blockage created by the dam to provide access to these high-quality reaches is a substantial long-term benefit to these aquatic communities.
During 2018, Unique Places received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to complete the environmental, engineering, and construction related components of dam removal. An extensive permitting and design phase is currently ongoing supporting future removal the dam.
HIGH FALLS DAM REMOVAL AND THE CAPE FEAR RIVER TRAIL PLAN
Unique Places, in conjunction with the Cape Fear River Partnership, is working to develop the Cape Fear Basin Comprehensive River Trail Plan. This plan is a basin-wide recreation plan that focuses on river paddle trails extending from coastal North Carolina to the central piedmont. The High Falls Dam Removal project contributes to the Cape Fear Basin Comprehensive River Trail Plan by removing a barrier along a navigable stream and no longer requiring portage. In the future, we hope to see paddlers and camping sites that support multiple day river excursions. The Cape Fear Basin Comprehensive River Trail Plan will help connect the Deep River to other rivers and tributaries, improving the connectivity of the Cape Fear Basin for recreation opportunities.