What's our stance on lock and dam removal?

St. Anthony Falls locks and dams from bird's eye view

The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to maintain or transfer ownership of local locks and dams, including Upper St. Anthony Falls lock (visible in the aerial above). (Photo ACOE)

Many people assume that as a river organization concerned about the health of the Mississippi FMR is 100 percent on board with removing the Minneapolis and St. Paul locks and dams. But our position is a bit more nuanced.

It's true we're excited about this opportunity to reimagine the gorge with dams removed and rapids tumbling. We also look forward to a thorough investigation and robust community discussion about all the potential impacts, costs and benefits of dam removal and river restoration.

As the Army Corps of Engineers considers the fate of key Twin Cities locks and dams this issue has increasingly come to the fore. The Corps is studying its options for three locks and dams no longer needed for commercial navigation: Lock & Dam #1 (Ford) in St. Paul, and the Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam and the Upper St. Anthony Lock in downtown Minneapolis (map). Options under study for each include continuing to own and maintain the current infrastructure, transferring ownership or removal.

While we enjoy the prospect of a free-running river, we also understand that our river has been significantly altered and this large-scale removal in an urban area would be the first of its kind.

Before committing to such an enormous undertaking we must first commit to a robust and extensive exploration process with plenty of time for community members and other stakeholders to collaboratively raise questions, look at alternatives, examine evidence and seek solutions. Together, we can best chart a course to protect and restore the health of our river and all the communities and wildlife that depend on it.

Stay in touch

As the Corps continues to examine its options, we'll continue to work with them and other lead organizations and agencies to advocate for and support solid research and community engagement.

We'll also be sure to keep FMR supporters appraised in our land use and development blog and to share key updates and events in our Mississippi Messages e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter

This will likely be a decades-long process. If you'd like to help actively restore our river gorge today, email volunteer@fmr.org to receive notices of upcoming River Gorge Stewards habitat restoration events. 

Learn more

• Check out our full position and FAQs 

• Look to our land use and development blog for the most recent updates

All FMR dam-related articles and updates