In 1876-77 a dam was built with a simple sluice to separate the shallow Sønderlem Vig bay from Venø Bugt. The dam provided a shorter route for traffic between north and south and also protected against flooding. South of Sønderlem Vig a summer dam was also constructed to protect the harvest on the meadows during the summer months. During World War I the economy of agriculture improved and permission was sought to drain the enclosed area. Royal permission was granted, but after the war the worsening economy meant that the project was not started. In 1940 the case was reopened and the state provided 2/3 of the finance required. Hedeselsket (The Heathland Society) designed a new project to dam the meadowlands around Sønderlem Vig and pump the water out into the bay so that corn could be grown in the drained areas. This led to major protests from fishing organisations as well as from nature and hunting organizations. When the project was put to the vote in 1944 is was the local people who said no. They did not think that the reclaimed land would be sufficiently fertile to justify the project – it contained too much sand.
Return to Nature
The project was finally abandoned in 1945. In 1955 an application was made for permission and support to regulate the water level in the bay and new pumps were installed and put into use in 1960, despite considerable protest. At about the same time, an area of 92 ha in Geddal Strandenge (tidal meadows) was drained with the construction of ditches and water pumps to allow cultivation. This project was completed in about 1958. In the period up to 1990 there were, however, several storms that ruined part of the dam and led to flooding by the sea. This resulted in a “return to nature” project and 140 ha of Geddal Strandenge was purchased by the state. The pumps were removed and posters communicating facts of the local nature have been erected. The area and its various projects bear witness to the way in which economic development and political interests have interplayed in the evolution of a large area with both nature and agriculture interests.