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While buying bait last weekend the bait shop owner mentioned that the low lake level this year is being caused by a hole in the dam, and that the d.n.r. will not repair it because they lack the funds.

Is this true?

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Sort of. Up to $50,000 is needed to make the repairs. The DNR does not wish this money to come from the $1,000,000 grant for dam repair projects for dams in worse shape than Vermilion's.

Here is the whole dam truth; a report from the Vermilion sportsmens club newsletter.


Lake Vermilion Dam Update

Over the past few years there have been questions and concerns regarding the dam on Lake Vermilion. In order to see the whole picture, here is an overview of the past, present and future as compiled by Amy Loiselle, Eveleth Area Hydrologist, and Dana Gauthier, Dam Safety Engineer.


The dam was originally built by the Howe Lumber Company circa 1892 to accommodate their logging operation. Then the center section was blasted out by locals in 1913 to help alleviate high water on Lake Vermilion. Thereafter, much discussion occurred among locals and St. Louis County about dam repair, culminating in a public hearing in 1953. DNR Fish and Wildlife took control of the "orphan" or abandoned dam at that time and split the repair costs with the county; the repair was completed in 1955. This dam was built with 50percent local funding and is state owned.

The dam, which is a grouted rock weir (i.e., boulders placed on the lakebed with concrete placed over them), is a total of 175-feet long and has a fixed crest, (i.e., the height of the top of the dam is not capable of being adjusted; there are no stop logs). When the dam was nearly completed, they troweled mortar over the whole thing. The low point of the dam is the 30-feet long center portion of the dam, which is at 1356.6-feet above mean sea level (AMSL). The next 25-feet on either side slope up to an elevation of 1357.0-feet AMSL and beyond that the next 47.5-feet on either side are at 1357.0-feet AMSL.

The dam consists of cyclopean concrete constructed using boulders taken from on-site and concrete made in a mixer on-site. No steel reinforcing was utilized in the construction. Since the dam was constructed on rubble there is a constant flow of water beneath the dam. The dam was designed to accommodate this flow and the seepage visible during droughts poses no risk to the dam.

Inspection By Dana Gauthier. DNR Water Divisions. Engineer. June 18. 2003

Ray Harris, John Zwieg, Vermilion Sportsmen's Club board members, and Gene Jenkins attended. They had noted visible seepage beneath the dam when the lake surface was very low this spring. Using waders, Dana Gauthier inspected the upstream and downstream toes of the dam. He found what appeared to be considerable loss of material on the upstream toe. A possible cause was ice runup crushing the concrete in the toe. This loss could be a concern because it was designed to have ice ride up over the upstream slope instead of pushing directly against the dam. The dam was inspected again this fall by Met Sinn, DNR Engineer for surface waters. He concluded that the missing concrete at the upstream toe could be due to the overlap of the temporary dam toe and the permanent dam toe during construction. In other words, the temporary dam was built too far downstream to allow placement of the upstream toe of the permanent dam. Some historic photographs may support this possibility. The downstream toe had some minor isolated loss.

Lake Level

While leakage through the dam has an effect on the lake level, the amount of water lost off the surface of such a large body of water due to evaporation dwarfs the impact of flows beneath the dam. Since the leakage is visible and the evaporation generally is not, the relating influences of water loss of these two effects is very misleading.


The effect of concrete loss on the dam is of concern. Starting in the spring of 2004 the DNR will have surveyors measure the location of the leading edge of the dam and check the location again the following year. In the event ice pushup causes a loss of a section, it can be repaired before there is appreciable loss of lake elevation.

The seepage beneath the dam is simply water flowing through the rubble foundation. The rubble is large enough to easily withstand the erosive forces of the seepage. The leakage or seepage is not considered to threaten the dam or have a significant influence on lake level.

There is some weathering to the dam's crest on the western side. It will be patched, probably within the next few years with asphalt.

The Vermilion Dam Update Continues...

In the last newsletter it was reported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources did not have a high priority to make any improvements to the Lake Vermilion Dam. They were willing to patch some weathering to the dam's crest on the western side. They were also going to monitor any movements of pieces that have separated from the bottom of the dam. The DNR has over 400 dams that it is responsible to maintain. The Governor is requesting $1,000,000 for the highest priority dam safety projects. They feel many of them are in more need of repair than the Lake Vermilion Dam.

January 6, 2004 state senator Tom Bakk, Ray Harris and I went to St. Paul to meet with Dana Gauthier and Mel Sinn, both DNR dam safety engineers. Our purpose was to see if more could be done to make some repairs to the dam. One concern is the lake level and the effect of water leakage under the dam. The DNR says that evaporation is the main factor that controls the lake level. Plus, the last three years we have had less than normal precipitation. Our group agreed this is probably true, however the perception is that many people feel the water going under the dam is a major concern to the lake level. The DNR said they will try to measure the leakage under the dam next year. Another issue is there are some voids between the "toe" of the dam and the lake bottom on the upstream side. In June of 2003, Dana Gauthier did an inspection using a long probe and found a cavity in one spot.

Senator Bakk said he felt confident about getting some money from the current legislative session for the Lake Vermilion Dam. The DNR said if Bakk could get this money without using the $1,000,000 requested for other dam projects, they would support doing some upgrading on the dam. They roughly estimated the cost in the range of $25,000 to $50,000. This would be for: 1 ) placing grout along the upstream face of the dam in the openings between the dam and the pieces that have separated from the dam, and 2) repairing the damaged concrete on the west end of the dam crest. Actual cost would depend on the specifications and the bids received.

This is very encouraging news, but is dependent on whether we get money designated for our dam. Senator Bakk has been very pro-active concerning this project and wants to work closely with the Lake Vermilion Sportsmen's Club. If this project gets the go-ahead, there would be an ******** study of the dam by engineers, and we would know for sure how much damage there is to this dam.

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Thanks for the dam reply!

It's good to hear that gene is still making trips to the dam.

Is there any effort at this point to raise private funds for the repairs? considering the cost of a dock or rail extension i could afford to kick in a few bucks.

Thanks again. Matt

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Maybe everyone on the lake could toss in $25.
Then charge each Outstate boat that uses the Lake a user fee of say $100 each time they enter a launch.
This would pay for Dam repairs, alsp pay for the people to inspect boats at each launch and for sure buy us all some nice Prime Rib at the Casino.

Might be to simple to do and somewhat mean to Out of State folks, but the dam would fixed, a few jobs created and we would be Full on Saturday nights?
Think about it.

Or the State could let Casino's be built all over the state.
Each Casino would be earmarked for only a few things that fall under a main cause.

Casino #1 Pro Sports
#2 Health care for older folks
#3 DNR
#4 Roads.
#5 Cops
#6 Education
And so on.
You like one cause, go to that casino,don't like the Viking or Kids to have books don't go to the Education Casino, or same for the DNR and so on.
Find a few not so eviel people to assign the funds to applying agencies and we are off and running.
Refine it as you go and everyone is healthy, happy, educated, watching the best teams on NEW fields who travel on NEW roads and we are protected by the corret number of well paid officers and our parents and older neighboors are eating more than cat food for dinner and have the med's they need to live a long happy life.
Sounds like a plan, but it is only a simple figment of a Musky Hunters mind.
It will never ever happen as most people would rather complaine about TAXES than work together to make things better.
Wastes a lot of time and money and mucks things up real good so no one understands what the hell is going on.
Then it take years to get a small little, very pretty and needed dAm a few dollars for a repair job.

Beter stick to dishing out a few bucks each and helping the people who know best FIX IT.
I'll mix the Concret and have at least three Trowles!


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I haven't seen anything about privately funding the dam leaking project. Maybe the Sportsmen's Club has more info on this.

I also have a trowel, Tom. But who would be better at dam repairing than a family of beavers? They're the dam experts. We should have contracted them in the first place.

Bucky Beaver and his crew always maintain their dam projects on a daily basis. If the dam springs a leak, Johny On The Spot quickly calls together his crew, and repairs are made in a timely, professional manner.

But some trees will inevitably be needed with a good portion of topsoil mix, perhaps a land use varience will be needed.

A small price to pay, but no taxes involved.


Big Bay IBOT #130
Net? You don't need a Net, just LIP them!

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The beaver idea could backfire.....

This one is a genuine hoot. It was an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan.

Wait till you read this guy's response.......but read the letter before you get to the response........


Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget Pierson, MI 49339

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
Montcalm County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow
condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely, David L. Price

District Representative Land and Water Management Division


This is the actual response sent back........

Dear Mr. Price,

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
Montcalm County.

Your certified letter dated 12/17/01 has been handed to me to respond to.

First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal Landowner and/or Contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan. I am the legal
owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris."

I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

I have several concerns. My first concern is - aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation - so the State will have to provide them with a dam
lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect.

In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers - but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams.).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2002? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.


Stephen L.Tvedten

Hans ******
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Fish

Monitoring 147.24MHz

email: [email protected]

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I've seen that one before but it's still halarious!! Great post.

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