DNR, city collaborate to repair, replace as part of dam-river restoration project

By Louis Hoglund

The fishing pier at the Pelican Rapids Mill Pond vanished from the landscape last fall, and will be gone all summer. 

The fishing pier, which had become a visual component of Pelican city parks, was removed for repairs. 

With the DNR river restoration project delayed another year, the pier will not return until spring-summer of 2023.

When it returns, the pier placement may be different—in connection with the Pelican River restoration and dam project. 

Department of Natural Resources staff and members of the Minnesota Conservation Corps dismantled the fishing pier fall of 2021, which is located below the picnic shelter in E.L. Peterson Park. The workers were part of a crew based out of Fergus Falls, with two of the team all the way from Columbus, Ohio, and Duluth. Conservation Corps crews also worked at Maplewood State Park in recent weeks. 

The dock is 30 years old, noted Amanda Hillman, Stream Restoration Coordinator, DNR, Fergus Falls.

Hillman had a discussion with Brian Olson, city public works and parks, about the condition of the pier after three decades.

“I discussed with Jeff Fjestad (DNR parks and trails) and he was able to secure funding to upgrade the pier,” added Hillman. The pier repairs weren’t actually part of the river restoration project, she noted. “It just worked out for timing and it became noticeable that repairs were needed.”

“The fishing pier was taken apart in 3 sections and removed from the river bed,” reported Jeff Fjestad, Area 1b Supervisor, DNR Division of Parks and Trails. “The DNR crew did the removal  and the city crew  moved the pieces to the city garage for rehab/redecking.”

The rehab will include all new wood decking and railings, and new floats. The design and the shape will remain the same, just new wood and floats, noted Fjestad. 

The pier repairs are a good DNR-city collaboration, noted Brian Olson. Under the agreement, city crews performed much of the labor in city shops, indoors, during the winter months—and it is nearly complete now. 

But it will remain “dry-docked” for about another year, after the dam is removed and the river restoration project is complete in 2023. 

Related: River project, Pelican dam removal delayed for a year