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The crowds of paddlers kayaking or canoeing through the channel between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis pass by crumbling wood retaining walls.

Now, a $1 million project next year is planned to rehab and stabilize that shoreline in the popular link between the two lakes, adding plants, wildflowers and shrubs.

In July, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board unveiled the concept plan for the Kenilworth Channel project and hosted a virtual information session last month.

Now, the construction, which spans the Burnham Road bridge to Cedar Lake, is moving forward, possibly beginning in fall 2021 after bidding for the project, funded by the Park and Trails Legacy Fund, begins next spring.

“It’s been on our radar for a while,” project manager Daniel Elias told the Southwest Journal about the project, adding that the Park Board discovered in 2002 that the channel walls were failing to hold back soil.

The project will maintain the large tree canopy and add plantings to create a natural wall that sustains the shoreline. The wood retaining walls of the channel were last reconstructed in 1961, according to the Park Board.

Cedar and Lake of the Isles, along with Brownie Lake, Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet, are part of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park, which draws 7 million visitors each year — the most visited park site in Minnesota.

The channel was dug between the two lakes in the early 1900s by the park system, then led by Superintendent Theodore Wirth, after a canal was dredged between Lake Calhoun, now called Bde Maka Ska, to Lake of the Isles. Cedar Lake was lowered 6 feet to match Lake of the Isles’ water level.

The revitalization of the channel in 2021 would keep the same 40-foot-wide opening. As construction crews continue work above the channel on the Southwest light rail line, crews may also have to close the channel in fall 2021 to boaters for eight to 12 weeks to do the channel improvements. For more details, go to minneapolisparks.org.