Restoring Access to Historic Migratory Fish Habitat in the Cape Fear River Basin; Lock and Dams 1, 2 and 3 proposes a comprehensive watershed based strategy to improve the resilience of anadromous fish populations through the improvement of passage at Lock and Dam 1, and the construction of natural rock rapids fishways at both Lock and Dams 2 and 3 on the Cape Fear River.

The Cape Fear River Action Plan, developed by the Cape Fear River Partnership, identified the action of constructing fish passage structures at Lock and Dams 2 and 3 on the Cape Fear River as a high priority and critical for the recovery of endangered and federally-managed species and the Cape Fear ecosystem.

Construction of the rock rapids fishways would provide for greater free flowing access to historic spawning grounds utilized by federally listed and federally-managed fish species, without compromising congressionally authorized purposes of navigation or affecting water supply users with intakes upstream of each the dams, such as the Lower Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Fayetteville Public Works Commission.


Bladen County is the lead governmental entity leading the engineering/design/permitting efforts at Lock and Dams 2 and 3. The following funding has been awarded to Bladen County:

  • NC Port of Wilmington – $750,000
  • NC Division of Water Resources – $1.59 M
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (Duke Energy Settlement) – $840,000
  • Kerr McGee Trustee (Tronox Settlement) – $10 M – PROPOSED

Cape Fear River Watch is the lead entity for the engineering/design/permitting effort at Lock and Dam 1 – Improvements to Striped Bass Passage. Two years of funding have been awarded for engineering/design as well as construction.

  • Coastal Recreation Fishing License Fund – Marine Fisheries Commission – $639,000

US Army Corps of Engineers – Disposition Study of the Locks and Dams

  • The USACE Wilmington District has been funded to conduct a disposition study (deauthorization) of the locks and dams
  • Timeframe of study is 12 – 18 months, with 2 to 4 years to deauthorize through Congress – Water Resources Development Act.
  • The USACE Wilmington District needs a non-federal partner to take on ownership of the locks and dams. Potential partners could include State of North Carolina, Division of Parks, NC Wildlife Resources Commission (wildlife boat ramp/recreational fishing interests).
  • The USACE Wilmington District is unable to make a permitting decision on any application for proposed fish passage until the disposition study is complete.

The Cape Fear River Partnership, a coalition of 31 federal, state, academic, non-profit and for-profit organizations, are willing to work with the USACE Wilmington District towards an expedited solution leading to the long-term sustainability of water supply and restoration fish passage for federally-endangered and federally-managed fish species. These projects are an economic driver for Bladen County and southeast North Carolina and are critical to the Cape Fear River ecosystem.

Lock and Dam 1 Rock Arch Rapids

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