This study assessed 31 historic mill dam sites in Minnesota. Of these, one was located in the Sea Grant coastal area. The study discusses broader impacts of dams on tribal, cultural and environmental resources generally, which are relevant to the SG study area.
Key points: "A primary purpose of this survey is to understand the siting, condition, and general characteristics of historic dams, including those already evaluated. Overall, the team field checked a total of 31 sites in 12 Minnesota counties: 12 historic milldam sites in Rice, Goodhue, Mower, Fillmore, and Hennepin Counties, nine Works Progress Administration (WPA) dams in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Stearns, and Wright Counties, nine logging dams in Pine and Cass Counties, and one irrigation dam in St. Louis County... In 2013 the Minnesota Historical Society (as authorized by the Oversight Board of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites) contracted Archaeo-Physics LLC to investigate historic dams within the area of Minnesota. The goals of the “Documenting Minnesota’s Historic Dams” project are to create an inventory of known historic dams, to develop a contextual framework for evaluating and interpreting the historical significance of these properties, and to suggest strategies for their documentation. The findings of this study are intended to facilitate cultural resource management activities and to promote heritage tourism and education in Minnesota. The major tasks completed were: review of existing databases held by various state and federal agencies and individuals, literature review and aerial LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) searches, field survey and documentation, context development, and ground-based laser scanning of selected dams and dam sites." "Dams are controversial. Once constructed, they become parts of both natural as well as engineered systems. The human manipulation of water and waterways has had many beneficial economic and recreational effects, but is also a source of ecological and safety concerns. By interrupting natural levels and flow of water, dams can impact critical habitats, fish and bird migrations, water temperature and oxygen content, the flow of nutrients, and aquatic plant growth. Flooded areas can produce greenhouse gases by increasing the rate of vegetal decomposition and emissions of methane and carbon dioxide. Dams and reservoirs might also promote streambed and shoreline erosion, changes in stream carrying capacity, and sedimentation rates. Dam operations can create rapid water level fluctuations above or below a dam, also leading to fish kills, decreased wild rice production, and poor waterfowl nesting success. While they can obviously improve river navigation, dams without locks block boat traffic. Many low head dams create dangerous 'drowning machines...' Dams have been long been targets of opposition. In the past, some groups in Minnesota have tried to stop the construction or operation of dams, have opened dams without authorization, or have tried to remove dams—through lawsuits, force, and even the use of dynamite. Among early adversarial concerns was flood damage to hay fields, wild rice crops, or riparian lands, the illegal taking of timber and other materials for dam construction and operations, the transport of stolen timber, and what was deemed to be unfair compensation for such losses. For instance, in 1901, Ojibwe at White Earth forced the closure of a dam when it was learned that loggers had illegally cut timber on reservation lands and were driving it down the Otter Tail River. There are also instances in Minnesota where law enforcement agents forced the opening of controversial dams.”
Report of investigation number 198
Minneapolis, MN: Archaeo-Physics, LLC.
Arnott, Sigrid; Birk, Douglas A; Maki, David.
Evaluating Minnesota's Historic Dams: A Framework for Management.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
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