Mark Twain National Forest plans to rebuild the dam at Crane Lake to eliminate danger and restore the lake to its original size so that boaters and anglers have access to recreational activities.

Forest Inspectorate Sherri Schwenke attended the Iron County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday to consolidate an official forest service decision to repair the dam at Crane Lake using a rolled concrete method.

She signed the Official Decision Notice for the Crane Lake High Hazard Dam Safety and Compliance Project, a decision based on extensive investigations and public engagement.

Chairman Commissioner Jim Scaggs, Vice Commissioner of the South Ward, Ben Young, and Deputy Commissioner of the West Ward, Ronnie Chandler, invited Schwenke to join them as she signed the document in support of the decision.

The commissioners and other community members and forest service staff applauded the signing of the decision.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in the Mark Twain National Forest as we went through this environmental planning process,” said Schwenke.

She added that the robust feedback from the community and the willingness of citizens to attend meetings and help with the planning efforts really helped her make a clear decision.

“This choice will correct all safety concerns and meet the community’s desire to enjoy their lake again,” she added.

At the signing, Commissioner Scaggs said how pleased he was to hear that one day the lake will return to its full 100 acres capacity.

He stated, “It’s always been a popular place for people to fish in kayaks and jon boats, and I’m looking forward to it again.”

Technical studies on the site began in 2014 after serious safety issues were identified with the dams. The lake was then drawn in 2015 for public safety.

Since then, several public meetings have been held, further technical studies have been carried out on site and public scoping has occurred.

After reviewing all of the information, a decision was made to select an alternative that would keep the water surface at 100 acres, handle water flow rates associated with a probable maximum flood event, and withstand the effects of a maximum probable earthquake.

Becky Ewing is the District Ranger of the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District and has been since 2013.

“I’ve worked with the Ironton and Fredericktown communities and user groups since the issues were first identified in 2013 and I’m so glad we made this decision so we can get this project started on the ground,” said Ewing.

Ewing added that a 65% structural design for the new dam has already been completed for this selection and a 100% design is expected by the end of this summer.

A new dam is at least a few years away; With this signed decision, the forest service can finalize the design, award the work to rebuild the dam, and then start construction.

The new dam will look different.

The earthen dam is lowered, the right overflow is filled in and both are covered with rolled concrete.

The roll-compacted concrete section will then act as a new emergency overflow in the event of heavy rainfall. The left overflow walls are being reconstructed and serve as overflows at normal sea levels.

In order to prepare for the upcoming work, the lake will be lowered even further in the coming months. This means that only small craft can access the lake and may need to take drugs across the lake to get to the water.

By lowering, the equipment can access the existing dam for geotechnical core drilling and sampling.

Residents with questions about the Crane Lake Project can email Ranger Ewing at rebecca.ewing@usda.gov or call the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District at 573-438-5427.