Minnesota's Legacy

Otter Tail River Restoration

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Wilkin SWCD
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
In Progress
Start Date
January 2016
End Date
December 2018
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Laws of MN 2015 1st Special Session Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 7
Appropriation Language

Accelerated Implementation Grant 2016: Laws of MN 2015 First Special Session Chapter 2, Article 7, Section 7

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

This project will result in a detailed channel restoration plan to stabilize streambank erosion and encourage natural stream functions in the Lower Otter Tail River.

Source of Additional Funds


Recipient Board Members
Members for Wilkin SWCD are: Dan Swedlund, Jared Nordick, Karlo Etten, Pam Hendrickson, Ross Aigner
Project Overview

The Otter Tail River is located in west-central Minnesota. Its Lower Otter Tail River (LOTR) reach is impaired for sediment. The LOTR begins at the dam of Orwell Reservoir near Fergus Falls and ends 48 river miles downstream at the confluence with the Bois de Sioux River at Breckenridge. No point sources contribute directly to the LOTR. Consequently, the turbidity impairment must be addressed through non-point measures. Current stream instability and bank erosion is largely a result of an 18-mile channel straightening completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s. This channel straightening reduced channel length and induced headcutting which has been a major contributor to channel instability and bank failure resulting in excessive sediment loading since that time. Bank instability is a significant contributing factor to the turbidity impairment in the LOTR. A TMDL study for this reach of the river was completed in 2006 with an implementation plan completed in 2007. An estimated 17 percent reduction in the 40,400 tons/year annual sediment load is necessary to meet the state standard. Since 2007, the Wilkin SWCD installed BMPs to hold the water back in contributing drainage systems and release it slower into the LOTR. The SWCD work has resulted in the retrofit of 40 miles of legal ditch systems with sediment controls (side inlets) and 300 acres of buffer strips. Cover cropping promotion resulted in excess of 20,000 acres of annual cover crops. The remaining implementation strategy will need to address in-stream sediment sources which will require a detailed channel restoration plan to stabilize streambank erosion and encourage natural stream functions. The detailed plan will provide a coordinated framework for future channel restoration. When implemented, the LOTR is expected to once again meet state standards. The Wilkin SWCD and Buffalo-Red River Watershed District are partners to complete this project

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Wilkin SWCD
Street Address
1150 Hwy 75 N
Zip Code
Competitive Grant Making Body
Advisory Group Members and Qualifications
Conflict of Interest Disclosed
Conflict of Interest Contact

Nicole Clapp