I recall that your Number Two story for 2012 was the Minnesota Falls Dam removal, which was described as the “most emotionally charged” story of the year. A recent letter in the Public Forum of the West Central Tribune provides evidence that the dam removal is still a sensitive issue.
From my experience, the emotional response in Granite Falls mirrors that of towns across the country. There are always multiple valid viewpoints on the historic, aesthetic and economic value of old dams. There is no question that dams played a role in our history and that their removal is a dramatic change. Yet dams do age and sometimes it is in the community’s best long-term interest to remove them.
Now we have a chance to look back to the history that pre-dates the dam and reflect on the character and aesthetics of Granite Falls that were valued by those who came before us. It can also be a time to begin aligning community resources to capitalize on opportunities created by the site’s new condition, including paddling and fishing. While some people may need time to see past what they’ve lost, others will certainly be attracted to what Granite Falls has gained.
On behalf of American Rivers, I applaud the efforts of those who have supported this dam removal and who remain engaged in local conservation work and connecting people to their river. In time, new relationships will be forged with the falls that will be meaningful to locals and visitors alike.
Director, River Restoration,
Upper Midwest American Rivers
La Crosse, WI