Willow River Dam Restoration Project

Record of Decision on Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as the Responsible Governmental Unit for environmental review of the Willow River Dam Restoration Project in the city of Willow River, Pine County, Minnesota, has issued a Record of Decision regarding the Need for an Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The DNR has concluded that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required because the project does not have the potential for significant environmental effects. The justification for this determination is contained in the Record of Decision. The Record of Decision also contains the Department's responses to all substantive written comments received on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet during the 30-day public review and comment period.

Issuing this Record of Decision concludes the state environmental review process for this project according to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board rules, Minnesota Rules, part 4410.1000 to 4410.1700. This project can proceed to permitting and approvals.

The Proposed Project

The Minnesota DNR proposes to replace the damaged Willow River Dam with a rock rapids dam. The 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 eliminates safety issues associated with the previous dam structure.

For Environmental Review Questions:

Please contact Becky Horton, [email protected] or 651-259-5122