DNR assesses future of Blue Mounds State Park dam


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is gathering information and assessing the future of the Lower Dam at Blue Mounds State Park in the southwestern corner of Minnesota.

Significant damage occurred at the park last June after heavy rains. Floodwaters from Mound Creek caused a breach of about 100 feet in the emergency spillway of the Lower Dam, prompting Lower Mound Lake to be drained.

“There are many things to consider as we decide how to move forward with the damaged site,” said Kathy Dummer, regional manager for Minnesota state parks and trails.

“We’re exploring environmental, recreational and historical factors.”

Lower Mound Lake, constructed in 1937, has been the only lake offering water recreation opportunities in Rock County.

The Blue Mounds State Park is the only recreational property in Rock County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lower Dam, Lower Mound Lake, Upper Dam and Upper Mound Lake are four of five features listed by the National Register as contributing to the cultural landscape of the historic district.

Mound Creek is one of many tributaries in the Rock River watershed designated as critical habitat for the federally endangered Topeka shiner minnow species. The area is a focus for habitat improvements by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dummer said Federal Emergency Management Agency funding and permitting will consider impacts to both the Topeka shiner and National Register features.

“This summer we’ll work on engineering and design plans, and a species and habitat analysis,” Dummer said. “That information will help us make a formal recommendation for moving ahead.”

Although the lake is closed to recreation, all other areas of the park remain open.

Blue Mounds State Park is also known for its bison herd, Sioux quartzite cliffs that rise 100 feet from the plains, and a sea of prairie grasses and flowers.

The park is a favorite for birdwatchers who want to see nesting blue grosbeaks and other species. Camping and rock climbing are popular activities at the park.

For updates, check the Visitor Alert at www.mndnr.gov/bluemounds or call the park office at 507-283-6051.

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