(KAUKAUNA, WIS.) May 14, 2018 – The 2018 navigation season on the Fox River opens on Friday, May 18 opening just over 25 miles of the river to boaters. Locks begin operations starting at 10 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.
Fees for using the lock system are reasonable and available for both motorized and non-motorized boats. A daily pass to use all locks starts at $10 for motorized boats 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, lock tenders open and close the giant gates and valves by hand. The lock system is staffed by 26 lock tenders on duty until the end of the navigation season on October 7, 2018.
Late last season, an independent economic impact study reported the Fox River Lock System could generate as much as $290 million in total economic output over a ten year period and generate as many as 6,300 additional jobs. The study further indicated a fully operational lock system could generate $99 million in additional business investment over the same time period. The study was conducted by Dr. David Fuller of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh economics department.
“It’s clear the lock system is the gateway to additional riverfront development on the Fox River,” said Tim Rose, board president of the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA). “As recreational use of the lock system increases, it will only introduce more residents to the accessibility and beauty of the river.”
From 2005-2015 the FRNSA restored 16 of the 17 locks on the system at an investment of $14.5 million. Several locks on the system will remain closed:
- The five locks through Kaukauna are operational, but not open to boaters due to the inoperable Veterans Memorial Lift Bridge. Repairs to the bridge are the jurisdiction of the City of Kaukauna and there are currently no plans to repair it to allow boat traffic to pass beneath the bridge.
- 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. This lock has been closed for more than 30 years in compliance with state law.
- The Menasha Lock will remain closed due to the presence of the aquatic invasive species, the round goby. It was closed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in late September of 2015 to comply with NR40 that prohibits contributing to the spread of aquatic invasive species. The board of the FRNSA and the DNR are discussing several options to open the lock to boaters.
“We want to emphasize that we will do everything possible to prevent the spread of invasive species, but at the same time the Menasha lock is not the only potential point of entry for invasive species,” said Jeremy Cords, CEO of FRNSA. “There are more than 60 un-monitored entry points on Lake Winnebago alone and countless private boat launches that are not being held to the same standards as the Menasha lock.”
For boaters navigating the river, public docks are available as follows:
- Menasha Marina, and docks near the Trestle Trail Bridge, this lock also has pedestrian access;
- Appleton Lock 1 at the Appleton Yacht Club;
- Appleton Lock 2 at Edison Center;
- Appleton Lock 4 at River Heath, this lock also has pedestrian access;
- Cedars Lock at Hawks Nest Bar and Sunset Park;
- Little Chute Lock at the Guard Lock, this lock also has pedestrian access;
- Little Kaukauna Lock at Mueller Park in Wrightstown;
- DePere Lock at Voyager Park, this lock also has pedestrian access.
For more information on lock hours and operations, please visit www.foxlocks.org.