Fish passage built on Cape Fear River

Dec. 13, 2012 @ 02:51 PM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed construction of a rock arch ramp — or “fish passage way” — at the Cape Fear River Lock and Dam No. 1, located 32 miles upriver from Wilmington. Completion of the rock arch ramp coincides with the release of the “Cape Fear River Basin Action Plan for Migratory Fish” by the Cape Fear River Partnership, which includes the Corps of Engineers as a non-member organization playing a role in the development of the action plan.

The partnership, which is a coalition of state and federal natural resources agencies, academic entities and private and non-governmental organizations, released the draft action plan today.Public comments will be taken through Dec. 19.

The rock arch ramp is expected to improve passage of anadromous fish such as striped bass, American shad, river herring and sturgeon during their spring migrations to reach historical spawning grounds. An evaluation will follow the rock arch ramp construction,assessing fishes’ use of the ramp over a two-year study. This winter, the partnership will construct an ADA-compliant, 90-foot wide fishing pier for anglers, paved parking and access at the rock arch ramp, with plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony in spring 2013.

The partnership’s plan to begin constructing fishing access coincides with its request for public comment on its “Cape Fear River Basin Action Plan for Migratory Fish.” The draft plan provides long-term, habitat-based solutions for the most pressing challenges to migratory fish in the Cape Fear River basin, which stretches from North Carolina’s Triad area near Greensboro to the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington.

The plan identifies threats to migratory fish populations, outlines actions to improve water quality, habitat conditions and fish passage, and will determine the community and economic benefits of improved migratory fish populations, which include American shad, striped bass, river herring, American eel, and endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon.

The public can comment on the plan three ways:

•By email: NMFS.Capefear.Comments@noaa.gov

•By fax:  301-713-4305, attention Janine Harris

•By mail to:

 Janine Harris

 NMFS Office of Habitat Conservation, SSMC3

1315 East-West Highway

Silver Spring, MD 20910