US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website

Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project

Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: Sept. 19, 2019
Marsh Lake Dam, near Appleton, Minnesota

Marsh Lake Dam, near Appleton, Minnesota


Marsh Lake is on the Minnesota River between Swift and Lac qui Parle counties near Appleton, Minnesota. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and maintains Marsh Lake Dam as part of the Lac qui Parle Flood Risk Management project. The fixed-crest dam holds a conservation pool in the upper portion of the Lac qui Parle Reservoir.

Between 1936 and 1939, the Works Progress Administration constructed the dam and rerouted the Pomme de Terre River into the reservoir. The Corps modified the dam between 1941 and 1951 as part of the Lac qui Parle Flood Risk Management project. During floods, the Marsh Lake Dam is inundated by the Lac qui Parle pool and serves no significant flood risk management purpose.

Marsh Lake lies within the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In the fall, as many as 150,000 Canada geese use the management area at one time. Marsh Lake is also home to Minnesota’s largest breeding colony of American white pelicans and several species of fish. The project features include

  • Restoring the Pomme de Terre River to its natural channel;
  • Modifying the dam with a fishway for fish passage;
  • Constructing a drawdown water control structure; and
  • Constructing recreational features.

In combination, these features would contribute toward restoring river habitat, eliminating winter oxygen refuge for carp and providing for ecosystem connectivity. The natural flooding and drying cycles will be restored, promoting growth of emergent vegetation, increasing waterfowl habitat and reducing sediment resuspension.


The Chief of Engineers Report was signed in fiscal year 2012. With the Upper Minnesota River Watershed District (UMRWD), the Corps executed the design agreement in fiscal year 2014 and a construction project partnership agreement and contract award to RTS Shearing LLC in fiscal year 2016. The UMRWD’s share of the costs are funded by the state of Minnesota. Construction began in spring 2017 with expected completion in late fall 2019.


Congress authorized the study by a resolution of the Committee on Public Works of the U.S. House of Representatives on May 10, 1962 and authorized this project specifically in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.


All costs are shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent non-federal. All federal funds have been appropriated.

Planning, engineering and design cost    $1,320,000

Construction cost

Federal                                                           $7,550,000
Non-federal                                                   $4,060,000

Estimated total construction cost            $11,610,000

Estimated total project cost                      $12,930,000