Archived Story

Phelps Mill Dam fishway to boost population

Published 11:03am Friday, October 12, 2012

In an attempt to provide better spawning areas for fish and boost populations, a fishway may be constructed at the Phelps Mill Dam. The fishway would allow fish passage up and downstream, reconnecting about 20 miles of river from Otter Tail Lake to the Friberg Dam.

The goal is to bring back the lake sturgeon population and improve walleye numbers, said Department of Natural Resources area supervisor Arlen Schalekamp.

The fishway project was brought to the county board Tuesday, and concerns were expressed about the spread of aquatic invasive species. DNR representatives said this should not be a problem, and lake sturgeon are one of the few species in the area that feed on zebra mussels.

The project is still in the conceptual stages, and a cost estimate is not available. Schalekamp said the price tag would likely be in the hundreds of thousands. The DNR will pursue funding from the Legacy Fund and various other places.

It is unknown if or when construction on the project will begin, but a proposal will be submitted by December. The goal is to get it done in two to five years, said Schalekamp.

“I like the concept,” said commissioner John Lindquist. “I think it’s a good thing.”

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