Updated: June 10, 10 p.m. | Posted: June 8, 2:30 p.m.
Nearly $2 million in state and federal money has been allocated to the restoration of a natural creek in Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, Minn., after severe weather struck the park in the summer of 2014.
High winds, heavy rains and river flooding lashed the park for a month from June 11 to July 11, 2014, causing damage to the lower dam across Mound Creek.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources opted not to restore the dam to its pre-disaster condition. Instead, the DNR will demolish and remove the dam, restore the creek and install a pedestrian bridge.
"[Rebuilding the dam] to meet today's safety standards would have significantly altered the look of that dam," said Steve Hennessey, development manager for the DNR's Parks and Trails Division. "The cost of that work would also have been pretty substantial."
A DNR report estimated the cost to restore the dam to current safety standards at $6.1 million.
FEMA will provide 75 percent of the $1.84 million in grant funding to restore the creek's natural course. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management will cover the remaining amount.
James K. Joseph, regional administrator of FEMA Region V, said: "The creek restoration project will benefit everyone who visits Blue Mounds State Park."
In addition to saving money, removing the dam also may restore water quality and help the Topeka shiner, a federally-listed endangered species of fish that resides in Mound Creek.
"There was an opportunity here to do stream restoration and improve habitats for the Topeka shiner as well as other threatened and endangered species," Hennessey said.
The restoration of Mound Creek means that park visitors will see a more natural landscape in the future.
"[Parkgoers] are going to see a restored stream channel that's going to mimic what a natural stream channel would look like in that area, more of a meandering stream flow. There will also be some oxbow wetlands that are associated with that stream," Hennessey said.
In place of the dam, a pedestrian bridge will be built over Mound Creek to connect trails.
The project is slated to be complete by the fall of 2019.