DNR seeks input on proposed dam removal in Hinckley

Agency asks for comments on what it should consider while reviewing project intended to promote safety while improving fish habitat and other ecosystem aspects.

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Via the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

Grindstone Dam (Courtesy MN DNR)

Note: The Grindstone River is a tributary of the Kettle River, which ultimately flows into the St. Croix.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comments through Nov. 12 on topics to be included in an environmental impact statement for the proposed removal of the Grindstone Dam in Hinckley. The EIS will describe the potential environmental effects of the proposed dam removal.

The DNR proposes to remove the dam on the Grindstone River and reconnect the river channel above and below the dam. The 26.6-acre Grindstone Reservoir, which is a public water basin, would be permanently removed.

The dam is in poor condition, presents a safety hazard, and is a barrier to the passage of fish and other aquatic wildlife in the Grindstone River. The dam also impairs natural sediment transport and natural stream features and habitat diversity.

Grindstone Dam during a flood. (Courtesy MN DNR)

The scoping documents available for public comment provide information about the proposed topics for the EIS. The documents include a scoping environmental assessment worksheet (SEAW) and a draft scoping decision document (DSDD). Copies of both are available on the project page.

An online informational meeting and comment opportunity will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5. The DNR will also host an opportunity for up to six individuals without a device or internet connection to participate in the information meeting in-person.

Copies of the documents are available for public review at:

  • East Central Regional Library, 244 South Birch St., Cambridge.

Additional copies may be requested by calling 651-259-5122.

How to comment
The DNR will accept written comments until 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12. Written comments on the SEAW and DSDD may be submitted using the following methods and should include “Grindstone EIS” in the subject line:

  • By email to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us (link sends email).
  • By mail to Becky Horton, EIS project manager, Environmental Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Online public input session
An online public information meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, to provide information about project details and the EIS scoping process. Following the open house portion of the meeting, where attendees will be able to ask questions of agency staff, there will also be a more formal time for public input.

For individuals without a device or adequate internet connection, the DNR will host a space during the meeting at the Hinckley Community Room, 106 1st St. SE, Hinckley, where connected computers and technical assistance will be provided. Computer reservations are required by 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4. Please contact Becky Horton at 651-259-5122 or becky.horton@state.mn.us (link sends email) to reserve a computer station.

Instructions will be provided after registration confirmation. The in-person connection site will follow all applicable Covid-19 safety guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control. Space is limited to six people to comply with social distancing guidance. All in attendance must stay at least 6 feet from others. All attendees must wear face coverings (masks).

How to attend the public input session if you don’t have reliable computer or phone access?
Individuals with a disability who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Becky Horton at 651-259-5122 or through the Minnesota Relay Service at
800-627-3529 by Thursday, Oct. 29.

The DNR will respond to comments when it issues a final scoping decision document (FSDD). The FSDD determines what will be addressed in the state EIS. The most helpful comments are those that directly address the content of the scoping documents and offer specific suggestions for inclusion in the scope of the state EIS.

Following completion of the FSDD, the DNR will prepare a draft EIS that will also be made available for public comment at a later date. Another public information meeting will be held during that comment period. People who submit comments on the draft scoping documents will receive a copy of the final scoping decision document, which will include responses to comments. Because all comments and related information are part of the public record for this environmental review, commenters’ names and email or postal addresses, as they appear in the material they submit, will also be published and publicly available.


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One response to “DNR seeks input on proposed dam removal in Hinckley”

  1. Peter Truitt Avatar
    Peter Truitt

    With precipitation increasing in the Midwest due to global warming, the flow in rivers will increase and dam maintenance costs will also increase. There are new ‘kinetic’ hydro-power technologies that do not require dams and do not restrict aquatic life. Exploiting the new technologies can help reduce our exploitation of fossil fuels and provide income from energy production for small operators rather than large corporate producers. Perhaps this is an option at the Grindstone Dam location.

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DNR seeks input on proposed dam removal in Hinckley