Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The City of Rochester may have found a new source of state funding for a proposed project that would include the removal of the nearly 90-year-old Silver Lake Dam.

The city previously requested the funding be included in the state bonding bills in 2020 and 2022 but has chosen a different path to pursue with the state legislature this year. Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, during a recent regular appearance on News-Talk 1340 KROC-AM and 96.9 during the Rochester Today Show, indicated the city is seeking more than $2.36 million for the project from the state's Legacy Fund, which utilizes revenues from the 3/8th percent statewide sales tax that was authorized by voters in 2008.

The funding request is currently included in the Outdoor Heritage Fund appropriation bills in both the Minnesota House and Senate. The measures, based on the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, would provide a total of about $180.7 million for projects throughout the state in 2025.

Andy Brownell
Minnesota Legislature
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The bills currently directs nearly $90 million of that total to 26 habitat related projects. The Silver Lake Dam project is 24th on the habitat list.

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In conjunction with a comprehensive dredging of the Silver Lake and a list of other upgrades and amenities, the city is requesting the $2.3 million from the state to remove the dam and replace it with a 750 foot channel of cascading pools. According to the City of Rochester's website, the "approach aligns with other efforts from the Department of Natural Resources to restore water bodies to more natural pathways by removing traditional dams."

City of Rochester
City of Rochester
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The city contends the new structure would maintain Silver Lake at major flood elevations while also providing for the unobstructed passage of fish and aquatic animals. The project is also touted as a way to increase recreational uses, including canoeing and kayaking.

photo by TJ Leverentz TSM-Rochester
photo by TJ Leverentz TSM-Rochester
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A group opposed to removing the dam is lobbying state lawmakers to reject the city's funding request. The "Save the Dam at Silver Lake" Facebook page currently has more than 600 followers.

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Gallery Credit: Samm Adams