River Falls Considers Removal Of Dams Along Kinnikinnick River

Conservationists Argue That Dams Hurt One Of State's Most Beloved Trout Streams


Talks have begun in the city of River Falls about the possibility of removing two dams from the Kinnikinnick River, one of the state’s most beloved trout streams.

The 26-mile river is designated as a class-one trout stream. The only manmade obstacles in its path are two small hydroelectric dams in the heart of downtown River Falls. Right now, the city is in the process of relicensing the dams for another 30 years, and conservation groups are taking the opportunity to encourage the city to study the benefits of removing them.

John “Duke” Welter, who works with Trout Unlimited in the state, said there are many people that think the dams are hurting their river.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“There are two shallow impoundments, about 15 acres,” said Welter. “They’re silted in, they’re eutrophic, there’s a lot of geese and there’s no significant fishery there, and they bisect a really excellent trout river upstream and a pretty good trout river and a very scenic area downstream.”

River Falls management analyst Ray French says these are working dams, saving the city around $130,000 per year. He says the city will continue with the five -year relicensing process, but that they’re working with conservation and citizen groups to develop comprehensive studies looking at the dams’ impacts, good and bad, on the river and community.

“The broader community discussion on future of the dams will take place over the next few years, but in the meantime we’re going to continue relicensing with the intent of producing power, which could ultimately fund any future capital costs,” he said.

River Falls’ current license for operating its two dams on the Kinnikinnick expires in 2018.