DNR removed the North Ave Dam by Frank Disco Gratke

Mill Pond Dam is in the DNR sites. It's such an easy way not to clean up the  the accumulated garbage, as the article below says. The New Oak Creek watershed study is due out 2018.

  1. By looking at the land on both sides of the Milwaukee River above the North Avenue bridge, it is hard to know that the dam was removed in 1997.
  2. Nevertheless, environmental quality and river uses along the Milwaukee River were still limited. Recognizing these conditions, the Department of Natural Resources completed a comprehensive plan that recommended improvements throughout the Milwaukee River Basin. Thanks in part to this planning effort, a Milwaukee River Revitalization Council and a watershed plan developed to focus on the river's cultural, environmental, recreational and economic benefits. The River Revitalization Foundation raised community support to acquire land to form a recreational trail and corridor along the lower riverbanks. Now, cement that might formerly have been used to channel and straighten the river is being poured for river walks, new homes and businesses proud to carry a riverside address.
  3. As noted in the River Alliance's account of river recovery, "At the former Chair Factory dam site in Grafton, removal uncovered beautiful dells as this portion of the Milwaukee River cuts through the Niagara Escarpment. At both New Fane and Young America dam sites, removal restored habitat for the threatened longear sunfish. In West Bend, removal of the Woolen Mills dam...[subsequently] created a 60-acre park that has become the crown jewel of that city."
  4. Removing the North Avenue Dam and impoundment was viewed as a linchpin for riverside recovery. In late 1990, the dam gates were opened, lowering water levels to accommodate replacing of a water main and repairing a bridge. Then-Mayor John Norquist agreed to leave the dam gates open while DNR staff led a technical advisory group consisting of city, county, village of Shorewood, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. The technical team studied alternatives and recommended partial removal of the dam to lower and narrow the river flow to natural conditions. Once exposed muds dried out and consolidated, the riverbanks were seeded with natural vegetation to keep sediments in place as the river returned to a natural state.
  5. The 2.5 miles of river from the Estabrook Dam to the North Avenue Dam narrowed considerably as the free-flowing river resumed a more natural course. The drawdown also exposed more than 150 years of accumulated garbage. During the summers of 1991 and 1992, Youth Conservation Corps members and numerous volunteers removed and recycled more than 2,000 tires and about 600 yards of other debris including auto parts, shopping carts and appliances. Water quality and habitat was improving. Fish subsequently moved in from populations upstream and downstream of the former dam.
  6. Downstream, the City began building the first segment of a downtown river walk system and started holding annual festivals like River Splash to celebrate the river. The enthusiasm spawned equal interest in revitalizing neighborhoods and housing downtown. Further study recommended removing the dam in its entirety. Permits were secured and the dam was taken out in 1997.
  7. The fishery responded very quickly, noted Will Wawrzyn, one of the DNR biologists who spent more than seven years working on the project. Fish species using the river increased five-fold in just a few years. The waters that used to hold common carp and white sucker now have healthy populations of smallmouth bass. Walleye and lake sturgeon restoration projects are underway and a state-threatened species, the greater redhorse, is common here. Where the river flow remains strong and steady, trout and salmon have migrated approximately 30 river miles upstream as far as the Village of Grafton on the Milwaukee River and to the City of Cedarburg on Cedar Creek. Today, you can walk along the former impoundment and see herons and osprey, red fox and river otters on restored wetlands along the floodplain.

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