Fox River Locks System reports more traffic; Little Chute lock closed

Posted on Jun 29, 2016 by

(KAUKAUNA, WIS.) June 29, 2016 – More people used the Fox River Lock System in May of 2016 than in years past. The Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) welcomed 1,617 people through the locks from May 6 through Memorial Day weekend of this year. From late April to May of 2015, 1,384 people used the lock system. The closure of the Menasha lock did not greatly affect the number of boats going through the lock system—400 boats went through the locks this May, a drop of only six boats from the same time period last year.

The downriver locks in DePere and Little Kaukauna continue to see the highest traffic, allowing boaters navigation from Wrightstown to the bay of Green Bay.

May 2016 Recreational Traffic

Lock Lockages Craft Passengers
DePere 143 254 1091
Little Kaukauna 116 124 470
Menasha* 0 0 0
Appleton locks 1-4 18 6 12
Little Chute/Cedars 16 16 44
2016 totals 199 400 1617
2015 totals   406 1384

Interior locks in Appleton and the Heart of the Valley communities continue to see increasing traffic, however the Little Chute lock remains closed. The lock was slated to open one year earlier than forecast, but an variety of unforseen challenges have prevented full operation:

  • The Village of Little Chute’s project to repair the bridge at the lock has faced mechanical problems.
  • The navigation channel for the lock has not been in use for 30 years and channel clean-up is more significant than expected.

“The floor of the channel is covered with 30 years of weeds and organic debris that have proven more stubborn to remove than orginally projected,” said Tim Rose, chairman of the FRNSA board of directors. “If boaters use the channel now, they’ll have weeds tangling boat propellors and we don’t want to risk potential damage to any boats,” Rose said.

Operational teams from FRNSA will drain the navigational channel and look at options for cleaning it out prior to full use. It’s unlikely the Little Chute navigational canal will be operational this season.

Despite the closed status of the Menasha and Little Chute locks, Rose says boaters are using the Fox River and the lock system. “Based on our census, the traffic from 2016 to 2015 is similar so clearly boaters are using the resource and the lock system despite the closed Menasha lock.”

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.

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ABOUT THE Fox River Navigational System Authority

The Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) was created to manage the Fox River Locks following the transfer of the system from the Army Corps of Engineers to the State of Wisconsin in 2004. This transfer was completed by a state statute that established the FRNSA and specified operational duties including the repair, rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of the locks system. There are 17 locks on the Fox River that are accessible to boaters and citizens April-October. For more information visit

For more information, contact Mary Schmidt 920-284-7165

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