By Nancy McReady
Federal re-licensing for the Winton Hydro Facility included establishing minimum flow levels for scenic Kawishiwi Falls, located off the Fernberg Road near Winton. The 67-foot falls is now accessible via a new foot-trail and viewing area.
The Winton Hydroelectric facility was built in 1922 by the Minnesota Utilities Company. It is located within the Kawishiwi Watershed, which covers 1200 square miles of land and water. This watershed includes Bald Eagle Lake, Gabbro Lake, North and South Kawishiwi Rivers, Isabella Lake and River, Birch Lake, White Iron Lake, Farm Lake, and Garden Lake. The 4 megawatt plant became part of the Minnesota Power system in late 1922.
Other significant outcomes of the licensing process include continued operation of the Winton Hydro Project for 40 more years; the enhancement of water flows and reservoir levels for recreation, fish, and aquatic habitat; annual funding for recreation, erosion control, and biological study within the watershed; and recreation enhancements at the Garden Lake Boat Launch and Shorefishing Facility, the Birch Lake Wayside Rest and rerouting the portage around the falls.