A Department of Natural Resources survey sent to residents in November states $800,000 in grant funds were “to be used for fish passage and hazard reduction with the intent of restoring natural conditions while offering recreation.” Justifications given to destroy the historic Mon Maq Dam appear erroneous:
1. Other dams on the Maquoketa River are allowed to remain with fish passage unaddressed, while ours is targeted. If fish passage is truly a goal or necessity, it is achievable without destroying the dam. DNR should work toward a compromise: A bypass channel restores river function and offers fish passage while keeping water running over the dam and preserving the historic site.
2. The hazard argument is a complete misrepresentation. DNR grant money should go to communities whose dams have dangerous hydraulics resulting in loss of life. The Mon Maq Dam is one of a kind in Iowa because of its “apron,” which reduces the potential for circulating currents. The rare times that recirculation does exist is during floods when the entire river is dangerous. There have been no incidents or fatalities in over 100 years at our dam.
3. Recreation and visitors from all over the US and world will continue with the dam in place. But fishing, as we now know it, could be damaged forever by removing the dam.
With the available money, there could be improvements to the current dam site: preservation, historical kiosk and signage, handicap accessible access, canoe access, road access improvement, picnic area, family-oriented park development, etc. Let’s explore Jones County heritage tourism and promote the Mon Maq Dam site rather than contribute to its destruction. If it is not justifiable by common sense, leave the dam alone. Show your support of the dam by attending the public meeting conducted by Jones County Conservation, Thursday evening, April 4, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Durgin Pavilion at Camp Courageous, 12007 190th Street, Monticello.