This project will remove the Ela Dam on the Oconaluftee River in Whittier, North Carolina. The Ela Dam has starved the downstream river of sediment, caused water loss through evaporation, and limited habitat access of several rare species in the area. Removal of this dam will restore the river and reopen nearly 550 miles that benefit the federally endangered Appalachian elktoe mussel and other rare aquatic species like the eastern hellbender. This project will be a significant benefit for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and imperiled species in the area. Increased habitat and spawning migration will restore the population of sicklefin redhorse, which was once a vital and thriving fishery of the Cherokee.
Project Quick Facts:
NC, Swain County
NFPP Project Funding
549 Stream Miles Reopened
Partner Project Lead
Mainspring Conservation Trust
The National Fish Passage Program: Leaders in Building Bridges and Fostering Connections
The National Fish Passage Program is a national leader connecting watersheds and people. The program has decades of experience implementing infrastructure projects with partners. Fish passage project proposals can be initiated by any individual, organization, government, or agency. However, proposals must be submitted and completed in cooperation with a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. (Please note thatprojects being used for federal or state compensatory mitigation or required by existing federal or state regulatory programs are not eligible for funding through the National Fish Passage Program.)
200 Million Dollar Investment in Rivers, Wildlife, and Communities
Clean free-flowing waterways are vital to wildlife, people, and ecosystems. But across the country, millions of barriers fragment rivers, block fish migration, and put communities at higher risk to flooding. The, signed in November 2021, included $200 million for restoring fish and wildlife passage by removing in-stream barriers and providing technical assistance under the National Fish Passage Program.