December 08, 2016 10:23 PM
ABC Eyewitness News
Running through the heart of the city, the Kinnickinnic River carries a lot of memories and emotion for those who call River Falls, Wisconsin home.
“The Kinni played a huge part in stuff that we learned in high school,” said River Falls native Matthew Neisius.
“I think it’s a beautiful river and I think it should be kept pristine and clean,” said Genevieve Hovde, who lives right on he banks of the beloved river.
The Kinni is a small river, flowing for just 22 and emptying into the St. Croix, but it is a major staple in the community. Dams have covered the falls on the Kinni now for more than 100 years but they currently only help provide about 2 percent of the area’s population with power. So the city of River Falls is now dipping its toes in the water to see if those who live there are interested in removing the dams and uncovering the natural falls.
“There’s all kinds of opportunities when you look at something this large scale in the planning process so we’re looking forward to that,” said City Administrator Scot Simpson. It’s a conversation rippling throughout the small Wisconsin town, including over dinner at the Kinni Cafe.
“This town doesn’t make sense without there not being a falls to go to,” said Neisius as he shared a meal at the diner named after the river. “I’d like to see [the falls] come back. I think tourism is the new business here.”
With options on the table including opening the river up for more kayaking, better trout fishing and redeveloping the old falls, many in River Falls have already made up their minds.
“I’d like it to stay just the way it is,” said Hovde. “Leave it alone with the animals and everything.”
The city of River Falls hopes to finish up the community discussions and have a plan ready by 2018. Then, it can move into the next stages of executing any potential changes as licensing on the dams expires in 2023.
Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company