(KAUKAUNA, WIS.) May 4, 2016 – 10 of the 17 locks on the Fox River lock system begin 2016 operation on Friday, May 6 at 8 a.m. Locks begin operations starting at 10 a.m., noon, in Appleton, Little Chute and Little Kaukauna Lock and the DePere lock opens at 8 a.m. on Friday. For a full schedule of lock operations, visit www.foxlocks.org.
For the first time in 30 years, boaters will be able to navigate the 13-mile stretch of the river from Menasha and Little Lake Butte des Morts, through Little Lake Butte Des Morts, the four Appleton locks, Cedars Lock and the Little Chute Locks to Kaukauna Lock #1. “All of the locks on this stretch are fully operational so boaters can enjoy the natural resource of the Fox River,” said Bob Stark, CEO of the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA). Additionally, pedestrians have access to all the locks and can watch the locktenders open and close the locks.
The lock system on the Fox River is one of the only fully restored, hand-operated lock systems in the nation. Just as they did when the locks were built in the 1850s, locktenders open and close the giant gates and valves by hand.
“It’s a piece of living history,” Stark says. “Locktenders were key in moving goods up and down the river more than 100 years ago, but today they’re opening the waters up to recreation.”
The 2016 season opens shortly after Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that sets the stage for the FRNSA to move from a maintenance role to a development role. The Authority will now be able to upgrade and develop the grounds surrounding the locks, including building a visitor center at Appleton Lock #3, near Lawe Street.
Last summer, FRNSA completed a 10-year project to restore and renovate all the 16 working locks on the lower Fox River with an investment of more than $14.5 million of federal, state and private funds to complete that project on time and under budget. Locks in Kaukauna are scheduled for full operation in 2017.
The lock in Menasha will remain closed temporarily because of the discovery of the round goby below the Neenah Dam, but will not impede plans to increase access to the river via boat ramps in Menasha, Appleton, Kimberly, and Kaukauna. The FRNSA is committed to protecting the Lake Winnebago and the Wolf River System from aquatic invasive species, and is working to proactively create a plan that keeps the locks open and control invasive species. The lock at Rapide Croche will remain closed to prevent the spread of the invasive species into the river and Lake Winnebago. The FRNSA board of directors voted to authorize a feasibility study to assess the possibility of moving a proposed boat transfer/decontamination facility from the closed Rapide Croche lock to the Menasha lock site.
# # #