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Kinni Corridor Collaborative updates 2022 plans

RIVER FALLS – At the River Falls Common Council meeting held Tuesday, Dec. 14, Kinni Corridor Collaborative President Judie Foster Babcock and Project Funding Chair Duke Welter gave a presentation and update on the group’s 2022 plans.

The Kinni Corridor Collaborative project has been working in collaboration with the City of River Falls since 2015 and as they move into future plans, the collaboration will continue. During the presentation, Babcock mentioned that some work planned for 2022 was originally planned for 2020 and 2021, but had to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kinnickinnic Corridor Plan, adopted in 2019, has remained true to its original visions and goals.

“Some framework here that we are working on is providing resources, restoring the rivers, connecting the community, strengthening the sense of place and balancing the desire for public use,” Foster Babcock said.

Although some of the original plans for 2020-2021 were delayed, the KCC continued to work on keeping the project on track as much as it could. They continued to have conversations with stakeholders and partners. In addition to those conversations the group also searched for grant opportunities that they hope to pursue.

“So as we look ahead and start to propose actual projects for implementation under the corridor plan, as an addendum we’re really taking a view of project management that includes typical five phases,” Foster Babcock said.

During the presentation, Foster Babcock submitted a few letters of agreement for the council to consider for adoption in the future. These were presented in order of current priority to the council.

Top priority is the removal and decommissioning of the Powell Falls Hydro Dam, especially considering the risk of excess sediment movement from a rain or run-off event which would risk flooding. Next on the priority list is the Lower Kinni restoration, which includes trout habitat and wetlands, for which current funds are available.

“We’re already starting to do the groundwork to submit the grant application March 4,” Welter said.

The group will begin work on these priorities as early as January 2022. There will be another quarterly update given in April 2022.

Welter explained the implementation plans for the removal of the Powell Dam.

“This matrix talks about the scope of the Powell Falls decommissioning and right now we’re looking for additional funding sources,” he said.

The matrix showed a project description of different phases, such as planning, designing and funding for the Lake Louise impoundment area as a future city park, as well as restoring wetlands/ ponds and studying the feasibility of adding a bridge crossing after the removal of the dam.

The entirety of the presentation is available to watch on the city's YouTube page. For more information visit kinicc.org.

The Powell Falls dam, or the lower dam, on the Kinnickinnic River was significantly damaged after a flash flood in June 2020. The city decided to draw down the Lake Louise impoundment behind the dam due to the damage. Photo courtesy of City of River Falls

December 21, 2021