Fish Passage2023-02-22T15:58:18+00:00


The partnership’s mission is to restore and demonstrate the value of robust, productive, and self-sustaining stocks of migratory fish in the Cape Fear River. Building on the momentum of the newly constructed fish passage at Lock & Dam #1, this partnership of key federal, state, local, academic, and other
organizations in the region is working together on this multi-year action plan.

Using a broad range of tools and capabilities, we seek to provide long-term, habitat-based solutions for the most pressing challenges for migratory fish.


The construction of small low-head mill dams, locks and dams, and large hydroelectric dams over the past two centuries substantially limited the range of migration for fish (Walburg and Nichols 1967). For example, by 1852, 11 locks and dams had been constructed between Fayetteville, North Carolina (river kilometer 220) and the modern day site of Buckhorn Dam (river kilometer 300) to aid the passage of company ships bound for the coal fields of the Deep River Coal Company (Thompson 1852). Upstream passage was limited except during boat lockage and possibly during extended periods of high flow (Nichols and Louder 1970).

There are currently more than 1,100 dams in the basin (North Carolina Dam Inventory 2012) These major dams were identified from the National Inventory of Dams, the Army Corps of Engineers, dams that NOAA deems significant to diadromous fish conservation, and Google Earth).

The most prominent obstructions existing today are the three locks and dams in the middle basin constructed between 1913 and 1934 and operated by USACE. These lock and dams were built for navigation purposes but now serve primarily to create pools for municipal and industrial water supply withdrawals.

Restoring Access poster << Click to view our poster on Restoring Access to Historic Migratory Fish Habitat in the Cape Fear River Basin.


NC Dam Removal Handbook << Click to view the North American Dam Removal Handbook from The North Carolina Aquatic Connectivity Team


News and project updates relating to fish passage.



Explore what the Cape Fear River Partnership is doing to increase fish populations, increase recreational fishing success, and more.

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