City Council approves Tentatively Selected Plan for the Kinnickinnic River Corridor

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presented its tentatively selected plan (TSP) to the River Falls City Council, which determined that there is a federal interest in addressing the degraded ecosystem along the Kinnickinnic River. The plan recommends removal of both Junction Falls Dam and Powell Falls Dam to restore the river, including the spring pond area west of the power plant.

The Council provided approval for the USACE to proceed with the feasibility study based on the tentatively selected plan. The USACE then received internal approval of the TSP in December. Due to the projected cost of the TSP coming in at just under $20 million, the USACE must obtain waiver approvals from the federal government to continue the project as part of the Continuing Authorities Program Section 206 (CAP 206).

What’s CAP 206? Under the authority provided by Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may plan, design, and build projects to restore aquatic ecosystems for fish and wildlife. In short, CAP 206 allows the USACE to fund and manage river restoration projects on behalf of cities and counties.

The journey toward dam removal was set in motion in 2018, when the River Falls City Council voted to remove both dams and set a target timeline: Powell Falls by 2026 and Junction Falls between 2035 and 2040. The Council's decision was informed by input from community members and subject matter experts during the process of developing the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Plan from 2016 to 2018.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, the City of River Falls signed a feasibility cost share agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agreement enabled the USACE to begin a feasibility study to determine whether there is a federal interest in undertaking a river restoration project on the Kinni, and if so, to present a project plan. 

Following Council approval of the tentatively selected plan, the remainder of the feasibility study is paused while the USACE awaits waiver approvals, which is expected to take three to four months. Stay tuned for updates in upcoming editions of the River Falls Reader and on the City's social media pages.