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DNR Ramps up Construction at Former Willow River Dam

From the Department of Natural Resources:

Residents and visitors to the Stanton Lake area on the Willow River will see increased levels of construction activity and truck traffic in the coming weeks as the damaged Willow River dam is removed and is replaced with a rock arch rapids. The dam, built in the 1940s, breached in July 2016 after a large flood overtopped the dam and eroded the adjacent embankment.

Earlier this month, workers temporarily diverted the river channel and dewatered the work area so they could remove the failed concrete dam. In the next phase of construction – expected to last into February – a series of steps and slopes will reshape the riverbed. Base rock and large boulders will be placed to create an arch rapids.

Because of the extensive nature of the construction and heavy equipment needed to perform the work, the adjacent Willow River City Park, now a staging area for construction materials, is closed to visitors. For safety reasons, visitors should obey the closure signs and watch for large trucks on area roadways.

During the final phase of construction in the spring, rock placements will be touched up, a trail along the rock rapids will be created, and vegetation planted. The water level in the Stanton Lake reservoir is expected to refill by late spring as snow melts.

The rock arch rapids will restore water levels on Stanton Lake and preserve water recreation for residents and users of the community campground. The new design will also restore passage for fish, mussels and other aquatic life that the former dam blocked, and eliminate the drowning hazard associated with the previous dam structure.

The $1.8 million project is funded by capital bonding dollars appropriated in 2017 by the Minnesota Legislature.

Picture courtesy of the MN DNR

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