ST. PAUL - As recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, the Minnesota Legislature has appropriated $2 million from the state's Outdoor Heritage Fund for the Two Rivers Fish Passage Restoration and Habitat Enhancement project in Hallock, Minn.

The project is part of an agreement with the city of Hallock to restore and enhance fish passage and habitat on the Two Rivers, a Red River tributary. Once complete, the project will facilitate fish passage by retrofitting the existing Hallock Dam on the South Branch of the Two Rivers and re-establishing a stable riffle-pool habitat downstream. A significant fishery exists on the Two Rivers, and 43 species of fish have been identified within the watershed. Work will provide essential support to the area that maintains historical and conservation values.

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The project, managed by the city of Hallock, is in the design and permitting process. The current timetable forecasts work to break ground this year and be completed by the fall of 2020.

Once finished, an existing 11-foot high dam will be modified with a rock-arch rapids fishway, eliminating the dangerous roller currents below the dam and providing quality spawning habitat for lake sturgeon and walleyes. The project also will reconnect more than 30 miles and in excess of 300 acres of high quality, diverse habitat along the South Branch of the river.

In addition to the fish habitat improvement, the project will provide enhanced recreational opportunities for paddlers along the river.

"The natural landscape is a significant asset of the city of Hallock and Kittson County, providing recreational, aesthetic and economic benefits for its communities," said Angela Grafstrom, project manager. "Conservation efforts to restore and enhance this area is an achievement for residents, and the habitat and its wildlife."

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council makes annual funding recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for projects that restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife. The Outdoor Heritage Fund was established in 2008 and is one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in November 2008. The Outdoor Heritage Fund receives one-third of the money raised by the constitutionally dedicated sales tax increase.