Kayak or canoe? Lake Shady Restoration Project features new rock

ORONOCO, Minn. (KTTC) -

If you love kayaking or canoeing, you have reason to celebrate.

The Lake Shady Project in Oronoco took seven years of planning to complete, costing around $4.2 million. Most of the money came from state funding.

But what was a bit of an eye sore five months ago is now a relaxing oasis for those who are outdoor-oriented.

The Olmsted County Environmental Resources department had crews dredging Lake Shady back in February. But after months of hard work, the former Lake Shady now plays home to rock rapids.

Terry Lee, the Olmsted County Water Resources Manager, has worked on the project for some time. “It’s no longer Lake Shady. We haven’t come up with a name for it. It’s part of Oronoco Park now.”

If you’re looking to utilize the rapids, you can either get on at the portage in Oronoco, or you can start from Mantorville, Genoa, or Oxbow Park.

The new rock rapids have a series of 10 weirs that control the water dropping. A weir is a low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow.

The water drops eight feet through the gorge, and by the time it gets to the bottom it’s at the same elevation as the stream was before the dam was removed.

It looks fairly easy to kayak or canoe, but there’s some risk for the inexperienced paddler. Beginners are advised to wear a life vest, helmet, and shoes.

The rock rapids are considered a level two rapid out of six possible levels. Class one is easy, and a class six is extraordinarily difficult.

Since the rock rapids are a two that means they’re considered moderate. 

The nearest level two rapids are in Hastings and Charles City, Iowa.

Barry Befort, a nearby resident, had his concerns about the project. “I thought it was a waste of time, money, and effort when I first heard about it, but it looks good now. I really like it. Whether we get a big flood and it takes their work out of it or washes their work away has yet to be seen,” he said.

But according to Lee, the…

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