DNR seeks comments on Willow River Dam restoration project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments through June 3 on an environmental assessment worksheet for the Willow River Dam restoration project in Pine County.

The DNR proposes to replace the damaged Willow River Dam with a rock rapids dam. The existing dam, built in the 1940s, breached in July 2016 after a large flood overtopped the dam. In its damaged state, the dam no longer holds lake levels at their former elevation. To restore lake levels and to provide for fish passage, the DNR is proposing to fill in the eroded channel and construct a series of rock arch weirs downstream of the existing dam. In addition to allowing fish passage, the rock arch rapids design reduces eliminates safety issues associated with the previous dam structure.

Copies of the environmental assessment worksheet are available on the project page.

Additional copies may be requested by calling 651-259-5122.

The EAW was published in the May 4 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, to the attention of Becky Horton, project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Willow River” in the subject line. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811. People who submit comments will receive a copy of the decision document, which includes responses to comments. Because all comments and related information are part of the public record for this environmental review, commenters’ names and email or postal addresses will also be published and publicly available as they appear in the materials they submit.