Norway Lake Dam Removal and Rock Rapids Installation, City of Pine River, Minnesota

Norway Lake Dam Removal and Rock Rapids Installation

Icon of City of Pine River, Minnesota

City of Pine River, Minnesota


“With coordination from multiple stakeholders in the project, the rock riffle project overcame hurdles and accomplished each goal we set to achieve. This project impacted the community by improving the recreational area environment for residents to enjoy.”

– Mike Hansen, Public Works Director


The Pine River dam created a reservoir within Pine River including the 500-acre Norway Lake. TH 84, which was built on the dam embankment, included a concrete bridge to span the spillways of the dam. The dam was classified as high-hazard and was also a significant fish barrier. The primary goal of the project was to remove the dam and replace it with rock rapids to improve public safety, reduce flood risk, and reestablish aquatic organism connectivity.

In 2022, the dam was removed and replaced with a rock-arch rapids. Replacing the 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 and 80 miles of river and stream corridors benefitting fish, mussels, and many game and non-game animal species.

Water levels will be similar to levels that would have resulted from operation of the gated spillways of the dam; however, the hazard and flood risk due to potential breaching of the dam during a flood is greatly reduced.

  • American Society of Landscape Architects – Minnesota Chapter – 2024 Award of Excellence
  • American Public Works Association – 2023 Project of the Year in Small Cities/Rural Communities
  • Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association – 2022 Environmental Stewardship Honorable Mention
  • Minnesota Association of Floodplain Managers – 2022 Project of the Year
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