JFC Gives Boost to Future Dam Removal Projects

Representative Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls)



On Thursday, June 10, Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved an increase in the DNR’s Municipal Dam Safety Grant Program from $4 million to $10 million in the next biennium (2-years).


The JFC also voted to increase the maximum grant award from $400,000 to $1 million.


Wisconsin TU and the Kiap-TU-Wish TU Chapter worked with Representative Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls) and others to increase funding for this program.


The City of River Falls owns two dams on the Kinnickinnic River, a class 1 trout stream in northwest Wisconsin. The City is committed to removing the dams and returning the “Kinnie” to free flowing status.


We’d like to thank Rep. Zimmerman and his staff for their leadership on this issue. While this move will potentially provide more funding for the River Falls project, it also provides more incentive for other municipalities in the State considering dam removal.


Dam removals on trout streams allow cooler water to flow downstream, and gives fish the opportunity to reach upstream spawning habitat.


Dam removal is also a good option from a municipality’s standpoint.  It removes the liability and risks associated with dam failure, eliminates future maintenance costs, and leaves the previously impounded area available for green space or commercial development.


If your local Chapter knows of a Municipality that’s considering a dam removal project, we encourage you to reach out to them now to start or continue discussion about this option.


The DNR Municipal Dam Safety grant guidelines are typically released in August, and applications may be submitted as early as September.


We’d also like to acknowledge the work of our lobbyist, Brandon Scholz, on this proposal. Several TU chapters in the region, the Wisconsin State Council, and TU National all pooled resources to secure Brandon’s services.


Brandon worked tirelessly coordinating with legislators and staff, TU State and Local leaders, and City of River Falls staff. Thank you to TU National Trustee Henry Koltz, who made several important office visits in the State Capitol to help move this forward.


During a budget session that has seen very few increases in any areas, we were able to more than double the amount of funding available for the Municipal Dam Safety Grant program. That’s a big win for TU and for future dam removal projects in Wisconsin.


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