In December 2016, the Kinni River Corridor Project started its process of community engagement and education with an open house and mapping exercise. This was followed by a series of six “Tech Talks” on topics including corridor planning, river ecology, economic and neighborhood development, hydro facilities, dam removal, and recreation, tourism and economics.
The next step is a multi-day corridor planning charrette in late October. Through this process two main points have become overwhelmingly evident:
The first is that dams are a detriment to rivers and that dam removal is critical for river restoration to a more natural healthy state and that this process results in abundant recreational, tourism, and economic benefits for cities that undertake this process.
The second point is that there is strong community support for dam removal. From the summary of comments from the December public “kick-off” meeting there were 103 comments from people in attendance supporting river restoration/dam removal while only seven people in attendance commented in favor of maintaining the dams.
From the online comments submitted to this committee there were over 500 entries in favor of dam removal compared to less than 100 in favor of keeping the dams.
The first major milestone in this project will be a decision by the city council in February 2018 on whether to relicense the hydroelectric facilities in the dams or surrender those licenses and begin the process of restoring the river by removing the dams.
While the public sentiment is already heavily in favor of dam removal, I would encourage everyone to attend the planning charrette to continue to make your opinion known and to ensure that we restore a free flowing Kinnickinnic River and to bring the falls back to River Falls.
Town of River Falls