Portage P.A.T.H.S.

Portage Area Trails Heritage System

PATHS is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization whose mission is to create and improve trail opportunities in and around the Portage area

7/20/20 MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will start construction later this summer or early fall on Segment 2 of the Portage Canal, located in the city of Portage. Dredging of the nearly three-quarter mile long portion of the Portage Canal was delayed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented the necessary on-site work needed to maintain the project’s original timeline for completion. The project is a continuation of remediation work on the approximately 2.5-mile canal, which connects the Wisconsin River to the Fox River in the city of Portage. Previous work completed during the summer of 2016 included dredging of Segment 1 of the canal, coinciding with the construction of the Columbia County Administration and the Health and Human Services Buildings. “The project has been delayed by a season because of work restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Scott Inman, DNR Water Resources Engineer. “The good news is the project is ready once again to move forward. The necessary contracts, permits and agreements are on track to be complete and for efforts to start this summer or early fall. With this year’s preparation work, a full season of dredging should take place in 2021.” Work planned for this year includes preparation for next year’s dredging, such as a preconditions survey, installation of erosion controls and the installation of a security fence around a sediment processing pad on DNR-owned property located near the Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge. Crews will also raze the existing DNR buildings at that site, install temporary facilities, clear utilities and prepare temporary roads. “The most time-sensitive part of this year’s work is to pave a sediment processing area for next year’s dredging,” Inman said. “The paving is the last critical item because it cannot be done after asphalt production facilities routinely close for the winter season.” DNR’s cleanup and associated work is part of a larger plan to transform the Portage Canal area into a usable, local resource that places the Ice Age National Scenic Trail along the canal. Completion of the remediation will support the city, its partners and Department of Transportation efforts to construct the multi-use path, to be completed in 2022. As the owner of the Portage Canal, DNR is responsible for taking the necessary actions to address the historical contamination that has impacted the canal. The project is expected to cost approximately $8 million, which includes the remediation of the canal and shoring up the canal banks to support the recreational path. From Adams Street to just past Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge, the 3,600-feet stretch of waterway has not been dredged in nearly a century. The canal is contaminated with metals related to a rich history of industrial activity along the canal.

For more information, visit the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Tracking System and enter 02-11-577055 in the “activity number” search field. Also visit Remediation and Redevelopment Program public notices to find the Final Design Report, Advertisement for Bids, Contract Drawings and Contract Documents and other information. You may also contact Scott Inman at (608) 576-4912 or via email at or Aaron Jahncke at (608) 742-2176 or via email at

Happy Trails

Fred Galley