City of Pine River Receives APWA Project of the Year Award 

Congratulations to the City of Pine River for receiving the 2023 APWA Project of the Year Award in the Small Cities/Rural Communities category for Pine River’s Rock Riffle project. This award recognizes a project that demonstrates creativity, ingenuity, and efficiency in the delivery of a public works project that has had a profound impact on the community. The project received the award on Monday, August 28 at the APWA/PWX Conference. 

The Pine River dam, built in 1910, was approximately 200 feet long and 13 feet high and created a reservoir upstream including the 500-acre Norway Lake. Electricity was generated at the dam until 1946 and Trunk Highway 84 was built on the dam embankment. The highway also included a concrete bridge to span the spillways of the dam. The dam was classed as high-hazard and was also a significant fish barrier. The project purpose was to remove the high hazard dam and install a rock riffle in its place. 

The dam was removed and replaced with a rock-arch rapids in 2022 by the City of Pine River. Replacing the high hazard dam with a rock riffle enhanced fish passage, biological connectivity, habitat, safety, aesthetics, fishing, and recreational access to the river. The riffle pools and channels enhanced recreational opportunities for wading, fishing, paddling, and other water-based fun. This work restored fish passage and connectivity between the Whitefish Chain of Lakes and reconnected 134 lakes (11,338 acres) and 80 miles of river and stream corridors benefiting fish, mussels, and many game and non-game animal species. The dam removal would potentially allow for the upstream migration of these species, increasing biodiversity. 

The city sought a concept that would maintain the reservoir, preserve and increase recreational functions, and have lower capital and long-term maintenance costs. 

Brent Johnson, Associate Water Resources Project Manager at Bolton & Menk, congratulated staff and city council on receiving this well-deserved award: “Your hard work, dedication and forwardthinking moved this project through many stages, from concept to construction. I’m thankful that I was able to play a role in this important and exciting project – it was certainly a team effort. We’re all proud that we could help to build this safe, sustainable, and beautiful project!” 

Learn more about the project’s recent accolades. 


Named one of the very best workplaces in the States of Minnesota and Iowa! We’re proud to rank in the Top 50 on the list, and even prouder that we were voted in by our own employees.