I would like to comment on the proposed modifications to the Pelican Rapids Dam. It has existed since 1872, and a village called Pelican Rapids grew around it, but today it is turning into a money pit for the city. It requires extensive work to repair it and keep it safe. The alternative is to remove it.
I know this is a controversial issue for the City of Pelican Rapids.
Does the community spend the money to maintain it, or should it be removed? I am not a city resident and cannot vote on the issue, nor will it affect my property taxes; but I am a member of the greater community. I strongly encourage removing the dam and restoring it to a more natural habitat. It will cost less and be beneficial to the river as well as the community.
I grew up in Dawson, Minnesota where we also had a city dam. I learned to fish bullheads and northerns there with my grandfather. When I got older, I swam in the reservoir and slid down the face of the dam on hot summer days. I also spent a lot of time canoeing on the Lac qui Parle River. I have many fond memories of that dam and river.
Dawson’s 1913 dam was caving in on the sides and becoming dangerous, not to mention being a maintenance headache for the city.
Something had to be done.
The citizens of Dawson committed to removing it.
When I heard that it was being removed, those old nostalgic memories from my youth came back to me, and I was sad. A few years later, I saw the results of the restoration project for the first time, and I was impressed.
The Lac qui Parle River in Dawson is different today than when I was growing up. I also realize it is much better. The upstream side of the old dam looks the same as it was back in the 1960s when I spent many summer days swimming, canoeing, and fishing on the river, mostly in stagnant water. Today, the upstream water level has not changed, but the water quality has improved.
Between the City of Dawson, volunteers, and private donations, there is a nice picnic area as well as a paved handicap access to the river for fishing. It is now a beautiful river park with rocky rapids where the old dam was when I was growing up.
Pelican Rapids can and should do the same thing as well.