US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
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St. Paul, MN 55101
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Corps of Engineers awards contract for Sand Hill River fish passage

Published Oct. 5, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, awarded a $1.6 million contract to Spruce Valley Corporation of Middle River, Minnesota, Sept. 30, to improve fish passage in the Sand Hill River near Fertile, Minnesota.

A major portion of the river was the subject of a flood control project completed by the Corps of Engineers in 1958. It involved straightening the river and constructing four drop structures and served as a drainage improvement to local agriculture. Overall, more than 18 miles of the Sand Hill River was straightened or abandoned. The straightened channel decreased the channel length, increased the channel grade, increased the channel conveyance and reduced the flood profiles in the lower Sand Hill River watershed. The grade control structures left the river impassable for spawning fish.  

A restoration plan completed by the St. Paul District and approved by its Headquarters in 2014 recommended several measures to improve fish passage to include constructing rock structures to decrease the slope of the river while creating resting areas for migrating fish. The Corps of Engineers and the Sand Hill Watershed District signed an agreement to work together to complete this project in October 2014.

To complete the first phase of the project, the Corps awarded Spruce Valley Corporation a contract to construct rock arch rapids roughly 120 feet to 180 feet downstream of the three control structures. The project also consists of reshaping/cutting portions of the concrete structures. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2017. The Corps is currently working on the design for the second phase of the project which will focus on modification of the fourth drop structure.  

The Corps will cover 75 percent of the costs for this project, and the Sand Hill Watershed District will cover the rest through a grant from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

The nearly 650 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2014 $100 million budget, nearly 1,600 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $155 million to the national economy. For more information, see


Public Affairs

Release no. 15-056