Little River, Blount County

Fact Sheet (As of April 2022)

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Oct. 25, 2021
Updated: May 2, 2022
Low-head dam at Rockford, Tenn.

Low-head dam at Rockford, Tenn.

Current appearance of project site

Current appearance of project site

 Little River, Blount County 


AUTHORIZATION: Section 206, Water Resources Development Act 1996.

TYPE OF PROJECT: Ecosystem Restoration.

PROJECT PHASE:  Feasibility

LOCATION: The Little River Watershed is in East Tennessee within the Fort Loudoun Lake Watershed. Draining parts of Blount, Knox, and Sevier counties, most of the watershed lies within Blount County.  After leaving the Great Smoky Mountains, the river flows through the towns of Townsend, Walland, and Rockford, TN.

CONGRESSIONAL INTEREST: Burchett (TN-02), Alexander (TN), Blackburn (TN)

NON-FEDERAL SPONSORS: Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).


BACKGROUND:   The Little River is a high-quality stream with several federally endangered and threatened species living within it.  Along a twenty-mile stretch in Blount County, the river has three low-head dams that act as barriers to aquatic species and have resulted in repeated human fatalities.  TDEC and TWRA requested USACE’s assistance in restoring the aquatic habitat of the Little River and removing three low-head dams that act as barriers to species transit.  Removal of the dams will restore the river to its natural state prior to human development and reconnect the full length of the river with its historic headwaters located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 


IMPORTANCE: The Little River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the state of Tennessee and is home to numerous threatened and endangered species.  Human fatalities have consistently occurred on the three low-head dams and represent a life safety risk to the neighboring communities while also acting as a barrier to fish passage and recreational navigation on the river. 

STATUS:  TDEC, TWRA, and USACE are signing a cost-sharing agreement to begin a feasibility study.

BUDGET ($):  The expenditures for this project will be cost-shared equally with the non-federal sponsors.  The federal share will equal $280,000. 



FY2021 Completed Work:  Completed Project Scoping

FY2022 Scheduled Work:  Execute Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement with non-federal sponsors, perform site visits, collect data on impacted aquatic and terrestrial species, proceed through an environmental and structural valuation of the ecosystem and dam sites. 


Peter Karr