The future of the Pelican Rapids city dam has generated discussion throughout the community–and on social media. 

The Pelican Rapids City Council has the difficult decision of determining whether to repair the dam–or return it to a natural “rapids,” which is being encouraged by the Department of Natural Resources.  Because of its emphasis on returning riverways to a more natural state, the DNR is funding the removal or modification of dams wherever possible. 

In Pelican Rapids, the dam has been such a central visual signature for the community, many are concerned about losing a familiar “icon” in the downtown business district. 

The Pelican Rapids Press sorted through some of the commentary posted on Facebook over the past several weeks.  Printed here are a number of views and thoughts that have been expressed online, including the Pelican Rapids Press Facebook site.

We tried to include a cross section of messages on both sides of the question, though those comments in favor of dam removal were more numerous. 

–Louis Hoglund, managing editor 

Julie Jacobson Rice I think that as long as Pete keeps his home, it is a good thing. 

Cynthia Peterson The dam is just a blip in the history of the river. I don’t know why some baby boomers are hot to keep a dam with no purpose. I can barely wait to see the natural rapids!

Pamela Hovland The changes described not only benefit the wildlife and improve the general health of the river (which is a worthwhile effort on its own), but also expand the opportunity for PR to develop its public spaces and riverfront, attract new recreational activities and businesses and increase community interactions. This transformation will undoubtedly put PR (and Pete) back on the map — a new story to tell! And that will bring new visitors. Smart, thoughtful and well designed change is good. PR is up to some exciting things in the coming years. Onward!

Julie Tunheim Bring back the rapids! I understand that getting rid of barriers in rivers improves water quality and aquatic life. And yes, keep Pete where he is.

Beth Hanson-Janu Don’t change anything.


Wesley Tweeton My vote is to keep the falls👍😀

Joyce Hain Leave the dam

Kathy Hagen Forsgren As long as Pelican Pete stays where it is, it looks beautiful!

Todd Haarstick Just leave it…

Thomas Albright The Dam is history, emotion, pictures and memories. But the new concept is also attractive. I see canoes, kayakers, peddle-boats, and fish. I can see the upwards of a million city taxpayer dollars going for a river walk… Pelican Rapids will always be a tourist stop destination, dam or no dam.

Joann Radermacher Please repair this original dam. As a native of Pelican, this was always something that was part of our lives growing up. It’s still something I look forward to seeing when I go back home.

John Waller III Those of you who are saying that we should keep the dam the way it is are not necessarily the ones that will have to pay to fix the dam. The residents of the city will. Besides, progress and change are a good thing now and then.

Judith Engebretson The new plan will bring fish in, clean river bed. It will be neck to nature. Great for kayaking. Change is needed in Pelican Rapids and this is an awesome way to start it

Angie King Sad they (want to) change history; tourists love seeing the rapids flowing — leave the dam the way it is.

Betty Rheault I’m hoping they will keep it as it is. How many towns have this.

Paul Strand They would leave/fix the dam but the city spent all that money on a completely pointless and useless renovation of a rarely used city hall.

Kevin Zick They should have been taking care of the dam way back when I was in high school. Leave the dam and fix it up, like it should have been. I even remember the swimming beach

Terra Fitzsimmons Progress is good. It’s a healthier system

Thomas Nygaard Repair and restore. Do not change!

Coleen K. Guhl I like the change –really it is going back to the original way it was years and years ago.

Marilyn Ness Heller Please leave as is

Everett Ballard At this point I cannot think of any logical reason or explanation to keep the dam. Going to a flowing Rapids gives everyone a chance to reinvent Peterson park and make it more useful and, yes, Pelican Pete and the windmill aren’t going anywhere.

Jay Boese I grew up in Pelican with the dam and I fished there as a kid. We used to jump off the suspension bridge when mom thought we were at the pool. I have very fond memories of climbing up Pelican Pete and taking my kids pictures there years after I moved away. All that said, I agree that it’s time to remove the dam. The waterway will benefit so much and I believe the city will as well.

Sue Winters Montevideo also removed their old dam and put in a rapids. A great improvement. It will take years for the river to undo the damage the dam inflicted but we are already seeing the benefits from the rapids.

Jay Elshaug Rapids done right are beautiful and restore a natural environment for aquatic habitat. Maintenance costs are nonexistent and hazards nearly eliminated. Rapids in the heart of Pelican Rapids can be just as wonderful to view as the current spillway while staying true to the heritage of the Pelican Rapids name for which it was founded. 

Laurie Olson Please keep it original! No matter how you fund it! This is what makes Pelican Rapids a special place to visit!

Rita Jacobson Please repair it! It’s part of the charm of Pelican Rapids, many wonderful memories of that place in your town, and it’s historical!

Dan Hafstad That (computer image of the proposed “rapids”) looks very lame & nothing like the original.