(KAUKAUNA, WIS.) May 2, 2017 – The 2017 navigation season on the Fox River opens on Friday, May 5 opening just over 25 miles of the river to boaters. Locks begin operations starting at 8 a.m. in DePere, 10 a.m. at the Little Kaukauna lock, and 11 a.m. in Appleton, Little Chute, Cedars, and Combined Locks. 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. “We are excited that the Little Chute lock will be open and operational for the full season,” said Bob Stark, CEO of the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA). “The locks in Little Chute, Appleton, and Menasha are also linked with parks and walking trails so pedestrians who have never seen a lock in operation can enjoy the experience.”
Fees for using the lock system are reasonable and available for both motorized and non-motorized boats. A daily permit to use all locks starts at $10 for motorized boats, $5 for non-motorized. Weekend and season passes are also available.
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. The lock system is staffed by 20 locktenders on duty until the end of the navigation season on October 1, 2017.
Two locks on the system will remain closed:
- The lock at Rapide Croche will remain closed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species from the Great Lakes into the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. Plans for building a boat transfer/cleaning station to move boats over the barrier are under consideration by the FRNSA board of directors.
- The Menasha Lock will remain closed due to the presence of the aquatic invasive species, the round goby. It was closed in late September of 2015 to comply with NR40 that prohibits contributing to the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). The board of the FRNSA is considering three options for creating a barrier to AIS and allowing operation of the Menasha lock: a boat haul-over within the lock, an electric barrier system in the water, and a carbon dioxide barrier in the water.
For more information on lock hours and operations, please visit www.foxlocks.org.