Ward Mill Dam Removal Project

The Ward Mill Dam is located on the Watauga River in the greater Tennessee River Basin, in western North Carolina near the community of Boone, N.C. In June 2019, American Rivers staff and partners began a project to remove the Ward Mill Dam. This dam ranks #1 for removal benefit in the North Carolina Barrier Prioritization Tool.

The Ward Mill Dam historically was manually operated in a run-of-river mode, and the powerhouse was connected to the regional grid, and provided electricity for the Ward’s adjacent sawmill, with excess power sold to the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Cooperative.

The project will improve fish/aquatic passage in the Watauga River for several aquatic species including the eastern Hellbender and Green floater mussel. Removal of this dam will gain 140 miles of connected stream and restore natural hydrology in the project reach. In addition to environmental benefits, there will be increased public safety and recreation opportunities for the local community.

* Project removes artificial barriers that restrict passage and/or natural flow of water for some period of the year


Near Boone, North Carolina

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Enhancing Recreation & Economic Benefits

Environmental Flow Restoration & Protection

Wildlife & Habitat Protection

Project Type:

Barrier and Impoundment Removal *