Big Sandy Lake Dam is a significant hazard dam located on the Sandy River in Aitkin County, Minnesota, 1.25 miles upstream of the junction between the Sandy River and Mississippi River. The dam’s original purpose was to provide supplemental flow to the Mississippi River during periods of low river stages for navigation. Construction of the locks and dams downstream of Minneapolis in the 1930s reduced the need for upstream storage for navigation, and since then Sandy Lake Dam’s purpose has shifted to flood control, recreation, fish and wildlife conservation, and water supply.
Authorized purposes for the Eau Galle Lake Project include flood control recreation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife. Eau Galle Lake is located on the Eau Galle River immediately upstream of Spring Valley, Wisconsin, approximately 50 miles east of the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
All Minnesota flood control sites include flood risk management, recreation and environmental stewardship business line functions. Each has public use facilities for shore fishing, picnicking, bird watching and other activities. The land is actively managed for habitat enhancement. Project locations: Orwell Lake on the Otter Tail River, approximately six miles southwest of Fergus Falls, Minnesota; Highway 75 Dam on the upper Minnesota River near Odessa, Minnesota; Lac qui Parle on the Minnesota River near Montevideo, Minnesota; Red Lake Dam located at the outlet of Lower Red Lake in the northeastern part of Clearwater County, Minnesota.
Homme and Ashtabula are multiple-purpose sites with flood risk management, recreation and environmental stewardship business functions. Souris River Project is used for flood control and mitigation activities. Project locations: Homme Lake, two miles west of Park River, North Dakota, on the South Branch of the Park River; Lake Ashtabula (Baldhill Dam), 12 miles northwest of Valley City, North Dakota, on the Sheyenne River; Lake Darling, operated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 20 miles northwest and J. Clark Salyer Wildlife Refuge, is 65 miles northeast of Minot, North Dakota.
The Mississippi River Headwaters Project consists of six headwaters dams in north-central Minnesota. Cross Lake, Gull Lake, Big Sandy Lake, Lake Winnibigoshish, Pokegama Lake and Leech Lake make up the headwaters lakes system. They were constructed or reconstructed between 1900 and 1913 (work on Pokegama started in 1884 and Winnibigoshish in 1885) to aid navigation on the Mississippi River between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The Mississippi River recreation and environmental stewardship functions are headquartered in La Crescent, Minnesota. The organization includes Blackhawk Park, a recreation area located 30 miles south of La Crescent with overnight camping, day-use areas and boat launching facilities. Operation and maintenance of three additional boat accesses at Bad Axe, Millstone and Jay’s Lake Landings are also administered by this organization.
The National Loon Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, is proposing a National Loon Center Facility, Public Docks and Shoreline Protection Project on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land at the Cross Lake Recreation Area. Also proposed is the development of shoreline protection zones with plantings and a boardwalk. The National Loon Center Foundation has presented a Land Use Application requesting a lease of the day use area at the Cross Lake Recreation Area. The St. Paul District is in the process of evaluating the application in accordance with the governing instructions to make an objective determination of how this proposed project fits in the master plan and affects the Corps’ flood risk management, recreation, and environmental stewardship mission and current users of the project.