Bringing Fish to the Table for a Reimagined Rum River Dam

The City of Anoka successfully secured funding from the Minnesota Legislature to complete a feasibility analysis and project design, which should be complete by the spring of 2024. City of Anoka civic leaders and staff have embarked on a path to reimagine how the Rum River Dam in Anoka can serve the community for the next 100 years. The vision includes the following.

  • Safety and Operations: Replace manually installed flashboards with automated crest gates and install a maintenance platform.
  • Water level management: Enable active water level management to minimize flooding and erosion, benefit particular species, and respond to mounting climate extremes.
  • Energy: Install a hydroelectric power system to offset some of the power needs of downtown Anoka.
  • Recreation: Maintain water levels to accommodate boat traffic with the addition of a lock to allow passage of small boats. Establish a cross river trail as a second purpose for the maintenance deck.
  • Ecology: Create a fish bypass to connect the Rum River to the Mississippi River.
ACD's interest in this effort is primarily the potential fish passage around the dam. Because dams cut off natural fish spawning routes, the single most beneficial project that can be done to improve Rum River ecology is to connect the waterway to the Mississippi River in a way that fish can make the journey between the two rivers. Other examples of restoring connectivity, have dams being removed or converted into rapids with slow enough flows for fish to pass while still managing water levels. These approaches aren't practical for the Rum River Dam, however, because they don't allow for water level management to optimize recreation while minimizing property damage from erosion and flooding.

The option that is on the table is a constructed stream that flows around the side of the dam. Inspired by nature, it does its best to mimic natural streams providing irregular flows and small pools to rest along the way. The Oswegatchie River fish bypass at the Heuvelton dam in New York recorded 2,000 migratory fish of 14 species in 5 days in the first season it was opened. A group of experts has been assembled to provide crucial guidance over the coming months to ensure the designs for the fish bypass element of the project optimize success for targeted fish species.

For more information contact Chris Lord, District Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Take a Kid Fishing

This past weekend (June 5-7) was the MN DNR's annual Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, but if you missed out, it's not too late to introduce a kid to the outdoors! Fishing is a great way to get kids off the couch and outside while also being a great family bonding activity. Kids under the age of 16 do not need a license to fish, and very little equipment is necessary to get started.

Anoka County offers many locations and opportunities to fish from shore, fishing piers, or other structures in all of its regional parks. No boat required! Additionally, the MN DNR's Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program offers easily accessible fishing for kids and families at many other locations. All of the FiN lakes and rivers in Anoka County can be found online at: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/fin/anoka.html

Fishing is a relaxing activity that can get kids interested in the outdoors, and teaches skills that can be used for a lifetime of enjoyment. Even if you don't have a boat, you can spend sunny, summer days reeling in supper for the evening, or the "big one" for a picture. Either way lifelong memories will be made.

The fun doesn't have to end with summer! Fishing can be great through the fall and winter from shore, or on the ice. Fall hunting seasons in Minnesota offer up extensive outdoor recreational activity as well, with many publically accessible areas all over the state.

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