Dream for Spring Valley Ponds ends

By John Weiss

The Post-Bulletin

SPRING VALLEY — The dream of turning Spring Valley Ponds into a major local tourism attraction and economic boost has apparently ended with the death of the dreamer.

John Bondhus of Monticello, Minn., bought the former fish farm outside Spring Valley a few years ago and wanted to expand it to not only produce trout, salmon and other fish but also have a walk-through aquarium and education center to make it a tourist attraction.

The dream ran into opposition from the local trout groups who feared the plan would take too much cold water from the big spring there and not put enough back into Spring Valley Creek, a trout creek that runs near the farm.


Bondhus, however, was pushing ahead with the idea when he died in mid-August, said Brian Hoff, head of the Spring Valley Economic Development Authority, which was strongly backing the plan.

He said Bondhus’ widow, Mary Kay Bondhus, recently "decided she doesn’t want to push forward." She had hoped to continue the dream but decided to sell all the fish, close the facility and look for a buyer, he said.

"I don’t know if something better will come out of it, but it certainly doesn’t look at this point (it will be) what John had envisioned for the property," he said.

Hoff was disappointed because the project would have had a big impact locally. There would have been 11 jobs, as well as a lot more business for local places such as hardware stores, he said. And more tourists would spend more money at local restaurants or gas stations.

The fish at the site now are being removed, he said.

Bondhus is hoping another person or group interested in fish farming will buy it, Hoff said.

The decision is unfortunate, said Jeff Broberg, head of Minnesota Trout Association, which was working to make sure there would be enough cold water for the stream. His group and Trout Unlimited were not against the plan, but only wanted to make sure enough cold water went into the stream. From data he has seen, there would have been enough for some cold-water fish ponds as well as enough for the stream, he said. In that case, Bondhus could have built his dream.

"I thought he could make it work," Broberg said.


He would like to see Spring Valley or the DNR buy the ponds and develop them. "I think they could do some things there that could make that a regional attraction," he said.

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