Army Corps debates closing road near Gull Lake Dam, burial grounds

A stretch of road next to a Native American burial ground near Gull Lake
Gull Lake Dam Road, a stretch of road next to a Native American burial ground near Gull Lake, north of Brainerd, that might be closed down.
Courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The public has a chance to weigh in on whether a stretch of road next to a Native American burial ground near Gull Lake, north of Brainerd, should be closed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday, July 25 on the potential closure of Gull Lake Dam Road in East Gull Lake.

The road runs through a popular Corps of Engineers recreation area and campground and over the Gull Lake Dam.

Last November, the Corps of Engineers made emergency repairs to stabilize the riverbank just upstream from the dam, said Brian Turner, natural resources specialist with the corps.

Turner said concerns were raised about the constraints of the road, which is a single lane over the dam, and whether it's compatible with the corps' mission to provide recreation and protect cultural resources.

"What we're trying to do is actually is just gauge public opinion on whether or not to close this section of road," Turner said. "We're actually really engaging with local officials and tribal representatives to identify alternatives."

Turner said representatives from area tribes including the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe requested that a portion of the road be closed because it's adjacent to a sacred burial ground.

"When the dam was constructed it was over 100 years ago, so our standards were different," he said. "What we know now, it's probably unlikely that the road would be constructed there with today's standards and considerations."

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East Gull Lake City Hall. Comments also can be submitted at here.

Turner said a decision is expected this winter.

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