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Fox Locks awarded challenge grant for improving portages

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December 28, 2023

KAUKAUNA – Thanks to a matching grant challenge from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, construction could soon begin to improve portages on the Fox River Locks system. 

Once the $150,000 match is raised, the matching grant will be used to help the Fox River Navigation System Authority (FRNSA) build improved portages along the system.  

Since reopening the locks in 2015, non-motorized boaters have been portaging around the lock and dam system through temporary or makeshift portages often made by the boaters for one season. 

Phil Ramlet, executive director of FRNSA, said existing portages are muddy, rugged paths or have not been maintained and are unsafe. 

“We have seen steady growth in people exploring the Fox River through the locks on kayaks and canoes,” he said. “Improving the portages is the best thing we can do to make the river accessible to a broad range of users. This grant will help us do that.”  

Another benefit of upgrading the portages, Ramlet said, is they will help to stabilize the shoreline along the locks.

“Most people are not aware of how the swift current of the Fox River erodes and destabilizes the shoreline along the lock system,” he said. “The grant will help us support our mission of repairing and maintaining the lock system for all boaters.” 

The organization is still seeking additional donations to complete the portage construction, which is estimated at $495,000.

The portages will be phased in over three to five years. 

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