Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Ellison, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Franken, Rep. Walz Send Letter to President Trump Regarding Upper St. Anthony Falls Disposition Study

Mar 17, 2017
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), along with Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) sent a letter to President Donald Trump regarding the disposition study of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.

The text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.

Dear Mr. President:

We write to request your support for a Section 216 disposition study for the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam. Since the lock was closed to navigation in 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recommended a disposition study to unlock the economic potential of the site. Presently the lock serves only as a flood safeguard, but otherwise is unused for navigation purposes.

We worked to include language in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act [P.L. 113-121] to close the lock in order to protect Minnesota’s waterways from invasive carp. The lock was officially closed to boat traffic in June 2015.  Since the lock’s closure, the upper Mississippi River has expanded recreational and commercial development in formerly industrial areas. The redevelopment of the Mississippi riverfront, no longer lined with barges, has rendered the lock obsolete. Still, USACE is required to pay for staff, maintenance, and operation of the lock.

Considering the development shift, many public and private entities in Minnesota are eager to repurpose the current lock and dam. The lock is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, an area that welcomes over 2 million visitors every year. It is a part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, one of a handful of urban national parks. The small visitors’ area at the lock is a prime vantage point to view St. Anthony Falls, the only falls on the entire Mississippi River. A recent agreement between USACE and the National Park Service opened the visitors’ center to tourists and in just one season, the number of visitors to the lock increased seven-fold.

USACE requested $1 million for Section 216 studies in fiscal year 2018, to be allocated to several proposed studies nationwide. We respectfully request your support of a FY 2018 budget that includes $200,000 to begin the USACE Disposition Study of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock in Minneapolis.

There is a clear demand to shift the use of the lock and better utilize public resources at the USACE, and the disposition study is the first step in that direction. We thank you for your support of this crucial study.

Sincerely,