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Partners team up for local fish passage project funding

On Sept. 10 local partners went to the state Capitol in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River.

Local partners went to the state Capitol Sept. 10 in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River. Submitted photo
Local partners went to the state Capitol Sept. 10 in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River. Submitted photo

On Sept. 10 local partners went to the state Capitol in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River.

In 1970, a rock dam was constructed downstream of Big Pine Lake to protect the aquatic plant community and fisheries but it blocked fish migration. Today, these partners are working to replace that dam with natural rock riffles. If funded, this project will reopen fish passage to vital upstream resources.

Partners included Crosslake Mayor Patty Norgaard; Soil and Water Conservation District Project Manager Beth Hippert; Big Lake Association President Ken Ormsbee; Project Engineer William Westerberg; Crow Wing County Assistant Highway Engineer Rob Hall; and DNR Fisheries Specialist Owen Baird.

The group attended a special hearing with the Lessard Sams Council Outdoor Heritage Council to request $1.2 million for the project. Members of the council, appointed by the governor and Legislature, are charged with allocating $118 million dollars for projects that will restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife. The $1.2 million requested to fund this project will restore, protect, and enhance habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

It will also help rebuild ecologically healthy fish and mussel communities in the river system that includes the Mississippi, lakes, feeder streams and wetlands the dam blocks. Riffles are engineered to open the system, restoring natural flows, spawning habitat, and in-stream cycling. This design will help walleye, smallmouth bass, other bait fish, mussels and more by expanding spawning habitat and access to the resources needed for each stage of their growth. All stream life will have cradle to grave access to resources; from fish larvae, to fry, to adults to species dependent on them for food and prey. Recreational use will also be improved with passage for kayaks and canoes.

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The council's recommendations will go to the 2019 legislature for review and final approval.

Local partners went to the state Capitol Sept. 10 in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River.
Local partners went to the state Capitol Sept. 10 in pursuit of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Funds to restore fish passage in the Lower Pine River.

Related Topics: PINE RIVER
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