Protecting the Namakan
Voyageurs National Park Association and partner organizations work to oppose the construction of a hydroelectric dam on Canada’s Namakan River in the heart of the Voyageurs, Quetico and Boundary Waters wilderness area. Hydroelectric development in this sensitive, pristine environment would have a significant impact on the ecosystem of the surrounding public lands and the wildlife therein, particularly on threatened species.
The Namakan River is a critical link between Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. The falls at risk are part of the largest remaining undammed river system in the region. The river accounts for 75% of water flow into Voyageurs’ Namakan Lake.
There has been an acceleration in dam removal in recent years in the United States for good reason. Some 1,000 dams have been taken down over the last 50 years across the U.S. We cannot allow a new dam to be built that would threaten the Quetic0-Superior ecosystem and the Rainy River watershed.
VNPA and a group of concerned Canadian and U.S. organizations formed an international effort in response to the hydro development project, which was first proposed as three dam sites in 2009 and has since resurfaced, set to break ground in 2015.
Please support our efforts to protect the Namakan and prevent hydroelectric development by contacting your elected officials. A strong public outcry (from Canada and the U.S.) will help stop this project from proceeding.
Hydro development proposal
A consortium that includes Gemini Power and the Lac La Croix First Nation proposed building a hydroelectric development on the Namakan River as a green energy project and economic development opportunity for the First Nation. However, the dam’s placement would have threatened the lands, waters, protected species and cultural integrity of two U.S. wilderness parks: Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Site of proposed hydroelectric dam:
Reasons for concern
- The Namakan is one of the last undammed large rivers in central North America. A dam would damage the water quality and alter the flow of the Namakan, a river that runs for twenty miles over four waterfalls, a dozen set of rapids and rocky channels before draining into Namakan Lake. The Namakan River also links directly to the Boundary Waters and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park and functions as a biodiversity and historical corridor (Voyageurs trade route) linking the three parks.
- A dam would threaten the area’s biodiversity and ecological integrity. Its construction would harm the resident Lake Sturgeon, a species considered by 19 states to be ‘endangered,’ ‘threatened,’ or ‘of special concern,’ and deemed ‘threatened’ by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. Mitigation via fish ladders has shown to be ineffective and remote mitigation is expressively prohibited by a Treaty. Others species would be disturbed including the Pygmy Snaketail Dragonfly, Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Snapping Turtle, Horned Grebe, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Bald Eagle, North American Beaver and Common Loons.
- This dam is only the first of three that could be constructed. The sponsors claimed that only one dam would be built on the Namakan, but the upfront investment in costly infrastructure opens the gate for multiple dams. Indeed, two other sites on the Namakan River are licensed to the sponsors for additional hydro development projects.
Donate now. Your financial support helps VNPA protect the Namakan.