Midwest Region

Final Environmental Assessment Approved for Fish Passage in the Red River of the North Basin, Minnesota

The final Environmental Assessment (EA) for Fish Passage in the Red River of the North Basin was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on July 29, 2005 when a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed.  The Service developed the EA in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  The Preferred Alternative (A) was selected.  This alternative is to modify or remove existing barriers at 13 high priority barriers to fish passage and maintain the stability of the reach of stream channel.  Under this alternative, some barriers would be left in place while fish passage would still be provided through creation of rock riffles.


Although the draft EA evaluates 13 sites, only the Heiberg Dam is slated for construction of a fish passage project this summer.  Partners on this project are the Fish and Wildlife Service, Wild Rice Watershed District, Minnesota DNR, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa.  Planning for other barrier sites will be completed as funds and opportunities become available.


No comments on the draft EA were received during the public comment period which ended on July 19, 2005. 


The thirteen barriers proposed for modification or removal are located in the following counties.  Three dams are located on the main stem of the Red River of the North: Drayton Dam in Kittson County, MN and Pembina County, ND and the Chrisitine and Hickson dams found on the border of Clay County, MN and Cass County, ND.  There are ten other barriers locations in Minnesota: The Argyle and Stephen dams in Marshall County, the old Otter Tail Power dam and several Sand Hill River barriers in Polk County; Heiberg Dam in Norman County, road culvert barriers on Marsh Creek in Norman County, the South Branch Dams of the Buffalo River in Clay County, the Elizabeth and Phelps Mill dams in Otter Tail County, and the Lake Breckenridge dam in Wilkin County.


A copy of the FONSI, the final EA, and associated appendices are available below.  Printed copies of the final EA are also available from Pam Thiel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 555 Lester Avenue, Onalaska, WI 54601; telephone: 608-783-8431; email:; or fax:  608-783-8450



Final Environmental Assessment

Listed Species Review


Appendix A - List of fish surveys and assessments conducted in the Red River Basin.


Appendix B – Barrier Information Worksheets completed by MN DNR Fisheries personnel.


Appendix C – United States Army Corps of Engineers Preliminary Restoration Plans: Drayton Dam.


Appendix D - United States Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment: Fargo South Dam


Appendix E – Reports from State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) database search for Red River barriers.


Appendix F – Red River of the North Comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan


Appendix G – Restoration of Extirpated Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the Red River of the North Watershed


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Last updated: March 3, 2009