It’s been nearly two years since boaters and fisherman have had boat access to the Minnesota River in Jordan. But that might change by next spring, if water levels drop far enough to repair the damaged landing this fall.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources closed the Thompson Ferry public water access, located just outside of Jordan in Sand Creek Township, in August 2017 due to a large fracture in the concrete boat ramp.
The closure has forced local sportsmen to travel out of their way to get access to the river. Darren Troseth, an avid fisherman and guide for Three Rivers Fishing Adventures, said he moved to Jordan in part because of the easy river access.
“There’s a large community of catfisherman that use that launch and because of the lack of launches altogether, when you lose one like that it’s a pretty big hit,” Troseth said.
Troseth said he typically used the landing three to five times a week before it closed. Now he is forced to haul his boat to landings in Belle Plaine, Chaska and Shakopee — and even those alternatives aren’t always reliable.
“It’s tough to keep those launches open,” Troseth said. “Carver hasn’t been open all year yet ... Belle Plaine has been really sketchy with mud, the only one we’ve been able to use this year pretty much is Chaska and Shakopee, on a limited basis.”
The most frustrating thing, Troseth said, is the landing is barricaded and closed entirely. Since the fracture was far down on the ramp and water levels are currently high, he reckons an experienced fisherman could safely launch a boat from the landing.
“I would much rather take all of my own responsibility of trying to get my boat in the water than being locked out,” he said.
But Troseth and other outdoorsmen may not have to wait much longer. Minnesota State Parks and Trails Area Supervisor Rachel Hintzman said the DNR has a repair plan in place and is just waiting for water levels to drop enough to repair the ramp.
The delay, Hintzman said, was caused by a combination of high water levels and a lack of funding. Engineers weren’t able to conduct a survey and examine the damage until late last year due to high water levels. Over the winter, the department put together a plan and secured funding for the project.
The plan is to remove the concrete beyond the fracture and replace it with strips of concrete that will be less likely to sustain a severe crack, Hintzman said. Flooding and high water levels this spring and summer have delayed the DNR from acting on that plan, however. Hintzman said they hope to make progress in the late summer or fall, when water levels are expected to be lower.
The landing was used by both the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and Jordan Fire Department to launch boats onto the Minnesota River. Scott County Sheriff Luke Hennen said while a functional landing near Jordan is ideal, the agencies have been able to improvise by launching boats in other locations.
“It’s not a major public safety concern of mine, we’re still able to get our boats in .. we adapt to the situation,” Hennen said.