Lower Otter Tail River Restoration

In 2015, a number of agency and resource personnel met to discuss the LOTR and possible ways to improve the river. In the 1950s, portions of the LOTR in Wilkin County were straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers.  This greatly reduced the length of the river and steepened the slope, resulting in reduced habitat diversity and quality, and contributed to impaired water quality.  A future project’s potential benefits could include improved water quality, increased flood capacity, wildlife corridor and high quality habitat, better fish habitat, and increased recreational opportunities.  A total maximum daily load (TMDL) study was completed for the LOTR in 2006.  At that time, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the annual sediment load was 40,400 tons at the gauging site in Breckenridge.  Two primary sediment sources were identified, including the adjacent fields, ditches, and streams and from streambank erosion.

Since the group first met, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) has applied for a Federal Section 319 EPA grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). That grant was approved in the amount of $242,000.  The 319 work plan includes several objectives, including civic engagement and outreach; channel restoration survey to establish the existing channel conditions; channel restoration and sediment reduction engineering design; and grant administration/reporting.  Last fall, the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) obtained a grant through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) in the amount of $203,013 to be used as a match for the EPA funding.  Also, the BRRWD has applied for a Section 1135 feasibility investigation through the Army Corps of Engineers, which was recently approved to provide the means for the St. Paul District of the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake an investigation of potential fish and wildlife habitat restoration measures at full Federal expense up to $100,000.  02/11/16.

Lower Otter Tail River Vision Statement

Meeting Minutes