Red Clay Dam Phase I



The Red Clay Project was a 1970’s era project that encompassed  watersheds in the Lake Superior Basin portion of North East Minnesota  and Northern Wisconsin. Its goal was to reduce erosion in the Nemadji Watershed. In Minnesota, efforts focused on sediment retention structures in two sub watersheds of the Nemadji River Basin: Skunk Creek and Deer Creek. Sixteen structures were constructed in the Skunk Creek  Watershed and four structures were constructed in the Deer Creek  Watershed. The design life of these structures was 10 – 25 years depending on the specific project. 


The Problem

A series of three dams were installed on Elim Creek. The furthest downstream structure had failed causing approximately 304 tons of sediment to be flushed into the watershed. The two upstream  structures both had rusted principle pipe spillways, making failure a  serious threat. This failure would result in an estimated additional  soil loss of 956 tons as the channel worked to stabilize itself.  


The Solution

In the fall of 2014, construction of a stream restoration was completed.  Engineering and design work was completed by the South St. Louis Soil  and Water Conservation District (Technical Service Area 3), construction  was completed by Superior Construction, riparian tree planting was  conducted by the Conservation Corps field crew, and the grant was managed by the Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District. The project  was funded through a BWSR Clean Water Fund grant and the US Fish and  Wildlife Service Fish Passage Program. Approximately 1/3 of a mile of stream was restored.

Funders and Partners


BWSR Clean Water Fund Grant


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage Program Grant


Conservation Corps

BWSR All Details Grant Report

C13-3693_AllDetailsReport (pdf)