Helen Sarakinos, Small Dams Program Manager at River Alliance of Wisconsin
The Baraboo River in south-central Wisconsin is officially the longest mainstem of a river returned to free-flowing conditions through dam removal in American history. On October 11th, work crews removed the Linen Mill Dam, the final dam on the Baraboo River and the site of two boating fatalities last summer. The removal marked the final chapter in a six-year campaign by a vast partnership including the Town of Baraboo, the DNR, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, Sand County Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies and groups to purchase and remove the final four dams on the river. The Baraboo River now flows freely (115 miles) from just north of Elroy to Portage, where the river merges with the larger Wisconsin River. River experts say restoring the Baraboo to its natural state will allow migrating sturgeon and other “sport” fish to thrive in its waters once again.