The City of River Falls signs Feasibility Cost Share Agreement with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for study on Kinnickinnic River restoration
On Tuesday, February 28, the City of River Falls signed a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agreement will enable the Corps to complete a study of the ecological benefits of restoring the Kinnickinnic River to its natural setting by removing one or both of the hydroelectric dams on the river, Junction Falls and Powell Falls.
The study is a required step the Corps must take before potentially beginning a dam removal project. At its conclusion, the Corps will present its recommendations to the City Council. If the Corps recommends removal of one or both dams, the Council will decide whether to move forward with a construction project led by the Corps, which would come with up to $10 million of federal funding. The study is expected to last between 18 and 24 months.
Signing the feasibility cost share agreement is the latest step in implementation of the City’s Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in 2018. Based on community input and a recommendation by the Kinnickinnic Corridor Project Committee, the Council passed a resolution to remove Powell Falls by 2026 and Junction Falls between 2035 and 2040.
“We are eager to work with the Army Corps to explore the possibilities of a federally funded project to restore the Kinnickinnic River Corridor,” said City Administrator Scot Simpson. “We are also grateful to Kinni Corridor Collaborative for their continued support and partnership.” Kinni Corridor Collaborative (KCC) was founded in 2019 to assist the City with fundraising and community engagement during the implementation phase of the Kinni Corridor Plan.
During the study, the Army Corps’ role will be similar to that of a consultant for the City. Corps staff will conduct the research, and City staff will support their efforts by providing needed documents and data. The initial $100,000 of the study’s costs will be fully covered with federal funds, while any further costs will be split equally between the Corps and the City.
Steve Goff, Vice President of KCC, presented the City with a check for $50,000 on behalf of KCC to help fund the City’s portion of costs. “Partnering with the Army Corps is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to progress with implementation of the Kinni Corridor Plan,” Goff said. “KCC is excited to be able to contribute funds to support this project.”
According to Nathan Wallerstedt, the Corps’ Chief of the Project Management Branch, partnering with the City of River Falls on this project could potentially restore more than a mile of river and 31 acres of habitat.
Community Development Director and Project Manager, Amy Peterson, said, “This agreement moves us closer toward the vision of the City Council and the community to have a free flowing Kinnickinnic River.”
Community engagement and outreach is a federal requirement the Corps must fulfill while completing the study. River Falls community members can expect a variety of engagement opportunities to be announced throughout the process, which may include open houses, surveys, and online feedback tools.
The City will soon have an updated Kinni Corridor website, which will outline the progress of the feasibility study. Keep an eye on the City’s website, Facebook, and Instagram for more information coming soon.