The City has taken a major stride toward realizing the vision of a restored Kinnickinnic River by securing a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency that provides public engineering services and funding. This spring, the Corps will conduct a feasibility study for the City, the first step in the agency's process for taking on a river restoration project.
In November 2022, the Corps contacted City staff to discuss a grant program that could provide up to $10 million for river restoration.
“Many times during this process, there have been round pegs trying to fit into square holes to bring our vision to life,” City Administrator Scot Simpson said. “The Army Corps is not one of those instances. This is like if you were going to create a federal agency to help us get our vision accomplished – the Army Corps is it. The Army Corps is a round peg in a round hole.”
The journey toward dam removal was set in motion in 2018, when River Falls City Council voted to remove both dams and set a target timeline: Powell Falls by 2026 and Junction Falls between 2035 and 2040.
The Council considered many angles and perspectives in its decision-making process. Hydroelectric power comes with several benefits: it does not use fossil fuels or produce harmful emissions, and it provides a steady supply of clean energy. It’s reliable and highly efficient — much more than solar power, wind power, and coal power. However, dams also have a significant environmental impact: they disrupt ecosystems by blocking migratory routes for fish and creating lower oxygen levels downstream, which can affect not only plant and aquatic life, but also land-based animal species.
The City will soon have an updated Kinni Corridor website where you can follow the progress of the feasibility study. Keep an eye on Facebook, Instagram, and the City’s website for more information coming soon.