Pine River Fish Passage Project Awarded $1.2 Million Grant To Complete Construction
The Minnesota DNR, Big Pine Lakes Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Crow Wing County elected officials, and more all came together to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of the Pine River Fish Passage project. This project will benefit both wildlife and surrounding communities.
“The original rock dam was built 50 years ago basically to create Big Pine Lake. Before the dam was in place, the lake was more of a swamp or a wetland, so the rock dam was permitted in 1970, created what is Big Pine Lake today, and has been an maintenance issue for the last 20-30 years,” said Rob Hall, Crow Wing Highway Department.
This new project is considered to be a long-term fix and will reduce maintenance, lower county and lake association expenses, and create a lower-lake level for the residents.
“We created a design that will allow for the functions and water flow through the river since it’s being controlled by the Army dam. So from there, we came up with a engineer construction plan that consist of five different arch rapids separated by deeper pools that will allow for fish passage,” Brad Kennedy, a Soil and Water Conservation District Engineer Technician.
“We did have some difficulties that were beyond our control; there was a breech in the dam that had to have emergency repairs made to it, so the project had to be phased and broken into two projects. So, we completed phase 1 in June of 2016,” said Beth Hippert, Crow Wing Soil & Water Conservation District Project Facilitator.
The main purpose of the project is to rebuild ecological health of fish and other aquatic life reliant on the pine, feeder streams, wetlands, and lakes. The riffles are engineered to restore natural flows, spawning habitat, and in-stream cycling.
A $1.2 million grant that was awarded by the Outdoor Heritage Council will now fund the Pine River Fish Passage in Crow Wing County. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will also track the success of the project on a 10-year cycle.