Yahara River Development Project

The Parks & Recreation Department is pursuing a project that would make better use of Mandt Park and Riverside Park. The project includes a riverwalk, pedestrian bridge connecting Mandt Park to the redevelopment area, trail connection from Mandt Park to downtown, a whitewater park, and a rental facility. This page will include updates of the project.

Project Update - July 2019

Interfluve has been hired to conduct sediment sampling in the mill pond and downstream of the dam to see if there are any contaminants present. They will also be completing a bathymetric survey which will map the natural river channel. This will provide us with the volume of sediment. The bathymetric survey is also needed for the design of the whitewater park.

Recreation Engineering and Planning has been hired to complete phase II of the design of the whitewater park. This includes a 60% design of the park, hydraulic and hydological analyses, and preparing for DNR and Army Corp of Engineering permitting. The analyses will provide data on how the whitewater course will affect water flow and levels. There will be a public presentation this fall when this phase of the engineering is completed.

Yahara River Whitewater Park Project

We started exploring the possibility of building a whitewater park in Stoughton. The project would include trail extensions, river walk, rental facility, and an in-stream whitewater park. You can track our progress below in the presentation by clicking on ‘Present’. More information for each of the phases can be found by clicking on them.


Examples of Whitewater Parks

Below are a few videos of whitewater parks around the country.


Manchester, IA Whitewater Park

Ann Arbor, MI (Argo Cascades)

Boulder, CO (Boulder Creek)


Project FAQs

What does the project include?

The project three elements; 1. Bank restoration, 2. trails/riverwalk, and 3. In-stream features (whitewater park). The bank restoration and the riverwalk/trail are needed regardless of a whitewater park is built or not.

Is the river large enough to create a whitewater park?

The Yahara River near Riverside Park and Mandt Park is approximate 90 feet wide at the narrowest section. This is smaller than the three rivers that have whitewater parks in Iowa, but is wider than some in other parts of the country. Boulder Creek in Colorado is approximately half as wide as the Yahara River and is one of the more popular whitewater parks in the county.

Is there enough water flow to create a whitewater park?

The Yahara River flow fluctuates between approximately 1300 CFS to 300 CFS. These are within the parameters needed to create a whitewater park. Above is a video of Boulder Creek’s whitewater park at 102 CFS. USGS Flow Data

Is there enough elevation change to create a whitewater park?

There is a 11 foot elevation change where the 4th Street dam is. Each whitewater rapid is around 18 inches in drop, so there is plenty of elevation change needed to create the different rapids.

Will people be able to fish and how does it impact fishing?

These projects have improved fishing in other communities that have parks. Engineers are able to incorporate fish passages into the rapids to aid in fish migration. Fishing access and fish habitat is also improved. Des Moines Register - In Charles City, Fishing is better than ever

Will the project force the Stoughton Fair out of Mandt Park?

The project will not force the fair out of Mandt Park. In fact, we will be doing a master plan for Mandt Park in 2019 where the Stoughton Fair will be a stakeholder group in the planning process. The goal of park master plans are to determine what type of improvements are possible in a given space and to provide a layout for the development of those improvements. This will lead to more efficient use of space so that the whitewater park and fair can coexist.

What will the whitewater park do to the water levels?

It is believed that the water levels will mostly be unchanged. There will be a hydrological and hydraulic analysis done prior to construction that will give a definitive answer on how water levels, including floodplains, will be affected.