Lake Bronson dam replacement project

A rendering of the future Lake Bronson dam. Text boxes identifying notable features include Hwy 28 in upper left corner; parking and walking path in upper left corner; low flow channel in lower left corner; existing dam location in upper middle left; new bridge with bike trail in middle; Lake Bronson in upper right corner; new labyrinth weir and debris boom in upper middle right; new spillway in lower middle right; stilling basin in lower middle right at bottom.
Artist's rendering of the Lake Bronson dam after future reconstruction.

Public comments accepted through October 19

Comments are being accepted on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) related to the Lake Bronson Dam rehabilitation. E-mail comments should be sent to [email protected] with "Lake Bronson Dam Rehabilitation" in the subject line. The deadline to submit comments is 4:30 p.m., Thursday, October 19.

2024-25 construction

   

The DNR is preparing to replace the aging dam in Lake Bronson State Park. We expect to begin construction in spring of 2024, and to complete the project 18-24 months later.

Although the public is not in immediate danger, this is considered a high-hazard dam. It is over 85 years old and in poor condition, and plans to replace it have been in progress for over ten years. Issues include an undersized spillway, seepage through the embankment and deterioration of the existing structure. 

We will keep as much of the park open for outdoor recreation as possible during the project, while also prioritizing public health and safety and applying sound natural resource management strategies. 

For more information, contact Lance Crandall, [email protected], 218-732-8452 ext. 238. 

Map of projected detours and closures

Click to enlarge map of projected construction detours
Public health and safety 

Despite the dam's current poor condition, the public is not in any immediate danger.

  • The DNR continually monitors the dam's condition and its ability to withstand flooding. Throughout the year, staff perform routine dam inspections and tests to ensure mechanical devices are in operational order.
  • Once construction begins, some closures will be necessary to protect the safety of park visitors and staff, the community and construction workers. These closures will be announced and publicized on site, in the local media and on the park's main webpage.
  • Visitors will not be able to observe dam construction activities, due to road closures and safety precautions.
Dam ownership and project funding and dates
  • The State of Minnesota owns the dam. The DNR manages and operates the dam, and is responsible for its design and reconstruction.
  • Thanks to the combined efforts of local communities, the DNR, the state legislature and the office of Governor Tim Walz, a bonding appropriation of $20 million was moved forward in 2020 to help fund this project. Additional bond appropriations in 2023 are providing at least another $4 million. 
  • We anticipate construction will begin in spring 2024. The project is estimated to be completed in 18-24 months.
Temporary impact on the community
  • Construction will lead to some limited and temporary road closures. We anticipate these closures will mainly impact the park and park visitors, rather than the surrounding community.
  • The increase in project workforce is expected to counterbalance any economic losses to the community caused by temporary park closures.
  • A segment of Highway 28 will be closed with a signed re-route for traffic. See the projected constructed detours map located above.
Temporary lake closure and impact on fishing
  • The lake will be closed to the public during construction, including the fishing piers and public water access.
  • There will be a near-total drawdown, leaving minimal water in the lakebed. After this occurs, we expect to see a major reduction of fish in the lake.
    • Bag limits will not be increased prior to the drawdown.
    • Some fish may move upstream.
    • After the dam is replaced, the DNR will aggressively stock and monitor fishery recovery.
Access to park programs and amenities during construction

Open:

  • Some trails or areas may close temporarily , but most of the park will remain open throughout construction. 
  • The park will still offer programs.

Closed:

  • The bike trail to the dam.
  • Fishing piers.
  • All recreation on and access to Lake Bronson.

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