We all love to be on, in or near the Kinni. There are so many ways to enjoy the beauty and recreation on this Outstanding Cold-Water resource. Paddling a canoe or kayak solo or with a group of friends, fly fishing, bird and wildlife watching, hiking, biking, doing outdoor yoga or meditation, hanging out on one of the local restaurant patios and so much more. Enjoy an overview of River Falls.
The upper Kinni is very accessible with multiple public landings on the upper river, north of River Falls on DNR and Kinnickinnic River Land Trust managed conservation sites. The character of the river here is a meandering narrow track through active agricultural and residential properties. The Kinni runs through the heart of River Falls and is part of our mainstreet, with 4 bridge crossings within 7 miles. Below Powell Falls Dam the Kinni flows into a driftless area canyon that feels very wild and remote. There is only one public access point about 4 miles below River Falls, until river users get to the confluence with the St. Croix River at the Kinnickinnic State Park landing on County F. The lower river has limited access and can be unsafe for inexperienced paddlers or anglers.
With so much to do and enjoy, the community is naturally concerned that the condition of the river be managed to keep it cold and clean. We also want residents and visitors to be safe and have fun, spend time and a few dollars and get to know what River Falls has to offer.
Kinni Corridor Collaborative is taking the lead role in facilitating conversations with the multiple private, commercial and public stakeholders. Here are some of the questions we'll be exploring and working to resolve through a community action plan.
We'll be building on the information in the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Master Plan to continue the dialog, develop river user educational materials and offer regular opportunities to do hands on river clean up and enhancement projects. River Development and management are an on-going process.
The community dialog and planning for the future of the hydroelectric dams started in 2014, when the current operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notice for renewal was submitted by the City of River Falls Utility Commission.
The City of River Falls obtained an extension on the current license until August 2023, to allow for the community master planning process that resulted in a resolution (see side bar) and the adoption in January 2019 of the Kinnickinnic River Corridor Master Plan (KRCP).
Kinni Corridor Collaborative was formed by community members as a result of the adoption of the KRCP. Currently we are working with the City on the Decommissioning Plan and related pre-removal monitoring and preparation. We'll also continue to facilitate stakeholder and community education about the status of decommissioning and restoration. This will include regular hikes around the the Powell Falls Dam and trips to other Wisconsin Communities that have completed dam removal and restoration projects successfully: Colfax, Merrill and Baraboo are on our travel agenda for the Summer of 2020.
Learn about the history by watching this video: The Dam Decision
Check our events page for registration for hikes, bus tours and other educational and informational events supporting this project.
Hydro Dam removal involves a lot of planning and approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
In 2018, the City of River Falls decided they would apply to decommission Powell Falls Hydro by 2023 when the current license expires.
The Decommission Plan is due to FERC by January 2020. Removal work is subject to an Environmental Assessment and FERC approval.
Kinni Corridor Collaborative is one of the partners supporting this project to project a special place on the Kinni just below Powell Falls dam. Our fiscal partner, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT) is launching a fundraising campaign to raise the money needed to purchase a key 40-acre, old growth forested parcel of land in the lower river canyon downstream of Powell Falls. The parcel contains 1,500 feet of river frontage and includes the mouth of Rocky Branch. The purchase will connect the River Falls School Forest, which has been landlocked for years, to Glen Park and River Hills Park.
This is an extraordinary opportunity for KRLT, the Community of River Falls, and the River Falls School District. “ A purchase agreement has been signed with the JoAnn Ailport-Dreistadt Estate and we are excited to move forward with raising the funds needed to make the purchase of the property a reality,” states KRLT Executive Director, Charlene Brooks. Successfully securing this 40-acre community forest will enhance public access to the Kinnickinnic River, increase angler opportunities, protect Rocky Branch, provide space for environmental education, and expand recreation.
The Community Forest Project is part of the Kinni Corridor Plan guiding principles and aligns with the Kinni Corridor Collaborative vision for our impact in the community.
You can support this project by donating online to fund this purchase of a conservation property to extend access to the River Falls School Forest and recreation on the Kinni.