Forestville Dam Flowage could see changes

Forestville Dam in Door County, December 5, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

DOOR COUNTY (WLUK) -- A millpond at a Door County recreation area may be getting a face lift.

County leaders approved a recommendation Wednesday for improvements to the Forestville Dam Flowage.

For more than a century water has rushed over and through some form of dam on the Ahnapee River in Forestville. The reservoir forms a 94-acre millpond just upstream.

Over the years, sediment build-up on the bottom, makes the shallow waterway even shallower.

But Door County leaders say change may be on the way.

"We're not going to open the flood gates and let it just pour down, it's going to be a systematic. It's going to be controlled. A controlled draw-down," said Ken Fisher, Door County Joint Facilities & Parks and Land Conservation Committee Chair.

Fisher says water from the reservoir will be allowed to run downstream. The Ahnapee River will still flow, but the former shoreline is expected to dry up.

"The thought process behind that is, by drawing it down, the soils will compact. Some of the invasive vegetation seed bank will die off and freeze," said Ben Nelson, Door County Parks Superintendent.

After two years, the area will be flooded again.

"And that will in term, improve the water quality over the course of time, once we refill the impoundment back," said Nelson.

Door County owns and operates the Forestville Dam, and the park nearby. People who live in the area say they are concerned about runoff from farms and other places, now and in the future.

"If nothing is done, it's going to continue, or maybe get worse, with the amount that's put onto the land," said Joe Hucek, Forestville.

"I really do agree with doing the draw-down, the two-year draw-down. I feel it's a necessary thing, but at the same time, right now, we have a nutrient overload," said Lora Jorgensen, Forestville.

During the draw-down, crews will make some repairs and upgrade safety. County leaders say the dam itself is in good shape and should last another 50 years.

The plan is in its early stages. The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposal on December 19, at a meeting at 6:00 p.m., at the Forestville Town Hall in Maplewood.

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