Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America

Quaker Neck and Cherry Hospital Dam Removal



Quaker Neck Dam Removal Project Details

The Quaker Neck Dam removal project restored anadromous fish access from Goldsboro to Raleigh, restoring approximately 78 Miles of the mainstem of the Neuse River and 925 miles of tributary streams as spawning habitat for the native anadromous fish. 

Cherry Hospital Dam Removal Project Details

The Cherry Hospital Dam removal project restored 76 miles of additional tributary streams for anadromous fish habitat in the Little River Branch of the Neuse Basin.

Anadromous Fish Species affected by the Dam Removal Project

Fish which spend most of their lives in saltwater but return to freshwater to spawn are called anadromous.  These anadromous fish can travel hudreds of miles upstream to spawn.  Striped Bass, American Shad, Hickory Shad, Alewife, Shortnosed Sturgeon, and Atlantic Sturgeon are anadromous fish in the Neuse River.  At one time, more American shad and striped bass were caught in North Carolina than any other state (Smith 1907, The fishes of North Carolina). Construction of dams on some river systems like the Neuse led to a reduction in spawning area for these fish.  A reduction in spawning area meant fewer eggs produced and, therefore, fewer fish. Recognition of this problem has led to the removal of dams like Quaker eck Dam and Cherry Hospital Dam.  In the case of the Quaker Neck Dam the dam owner, Carolina Power and Light, voluntarily cooperated in the
investigation of the benefits of the removal of the dam, and subsequently worked with serveral state and federal agencies, and private conservation organizations to effect the removal of the dam.

  • Alewife (Alosa Pseudoharengus)

    Alewife are commercially important species that spawn in shallow streams as well as in the mainstem river.  Alewife and American shad were among the first fish to be exploited commercially in North Carolina because their oily flesh allowed them to be salt preserved without ice or refrigeration.  Alewife will benefit from the 925 miles of tributary streams that will be opened by this project as well as the 78 miles of mainstem.

    One of the two river herrings, the alewife is a schooling species that spends most of its life at sea from North Carolina to Canada, returning to freshwater rivers and coastal ponds after three to five years to spawn. This species also occurs in the Great Lakes, and landlocked forms are commonly stocked as forage for game fish. Anadromous alewives are similar in appearance to the shad but are distinguished by the relatively large size of their eyes. They grow to about 10 to 12 inches, and although their life cycle is similar to that of the American shad, they prefer to spawn in smaller
    tributaries and slack water.

    Blueback herring

    Blueback herring closely resemble the alewife in size and appearance. Because they are anadromous, they have a similar life cycle but may travel farther upstream into tributaries to spawn in swift waters. Their coastal distribution and spawning seasons coincide with those of American shad.

    Striped bass

    The striped bass is an important native Atlantic Coast sport and commercial species. Stripers, also known as rockflsh in the Chesapeake Bay, may live for 30 years and reach great sizes with fish over 4 feet long, and 50 pounds not uncommon. Stripers are shaped like other basses and are distinguished by the six or seven dark stripes that run the length of their bodies. Spawning occurs in springtime near the salt line of tidal tributaries, and significant numbers of smaller.

    American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)

    The American shad is the largest herring in North America, commonly reaching a size of 4 to 6 pounds.  It is both recreationally and commercially important.  A mature female may produce between 100 and 600 thousand eggs per spawn and most spawning will occur in the mainstem river. Seventyeight miles of mainstem river will be opened by this project.  American shad catches have plummeted fom more than 8 million pounds in 1896 to 205 thousand pounds in 1995.  At one time, North Carolina produced more striped bass and American shad than any other state (Smith 1907, The fishes of North Carolina).  At that time the Neuse River produced more American shad than any other river in North Carolina.

Program Contact

Contact: Mike Wicker, Coastal Program Coordinator, Raleigh Field Office at 919-856-4520, ext. 22 or mike_wicker@fws.gov.


Last Updated: July 5, 2016