The McClusky Canal is a major feature of the Garrison Diversion Unit Principal Supply Works. The canal conveys water from Lake Audubon to the west side of the Lonetree Wildlife Management Area, in central North Dakota. Construction began on May 10, 1970 for the 73.6 mile canal, which was constructed under eight separate contracts from 1969 to 1976.
The McClusky Canal is a series of pools controlled by radial gates. There is a two-foot gradient between pool structures. The bottom width of each pool is 25 feet, and water depth is 15 to 17 feet, with 2-to-1 side slopes. The canal was designed to carry 1,950 cfs of water for irrigation of 250,000 acres, as well as to provide water for municipal and rural water systems.
Under the original Garrison Diversion Unit plan, the McClusky Canal was to transport water to the Lonetree Reservoir. This reservoir was deauthorized by the Dakota Water Resources Act of 2000 and, instead, developed into a wildlife conservation area. The Lonetree Wildlife Management Area is operated by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
The Garrison Diversion Operations & Maintenance (O&M) staff provides routine maintenance to the canal, including monitoring and inspection, water operations, building and equipment maintenance, rock and gravel hauling, and spraying for noxious weeds. The O&M is provided under a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Recreation is popular along the McClusky Canal. The Chain of Lakes recreation area, along with Hofer Lake and Lake Brekken-Holmes, provide great opportunities for camping, boating, fishing, and water sports.