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Paynesville Press - June 16, 2004

Watershed proposed for the Middle Fork of the Crow River

By Michael Jacobson

Citizens concerned by the deterioration of water quality in the Middle Fork of the Crow River – and in the lakes it feeds – are trying to get state approval for a watershed district for the river.

If such a district were established it would encompass parts of seven townships in Kandiyohi County (including the southwestern corner of Roseville Township and the western two-thirds of Irving Township in the Paynesville area), three townships in Meeker, and two in Stearns. The district would stretch from Belgrade in the north to nearly Grove City in the south, including Belgrade, Spicer, New London, and Atwater. The proposed watershed district includes 275 square miles.

State law gives the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) authority to establish a watershed district when certain conditions are met, such as when 50 or more residents of the proposed district sign an establishment petition. Two Kandiyohi County citizens – Ann Latham, a Green Lake resident, and Ruth Schaefer, a Lake Calhoun resident – have recruited a committee and are organizing a drive to obtain the necessary signatures. Their goal is to get 200 signatures.

The organizing committee will host an information meeting in Spicer at the Dethlefs Center (just east of the Green Lake Mall) on Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m.

There are 40 watershed districts in Minnesota, including the North Fork of the Crow River Watershed District, which stretches from Brooten to Lake Koronis. Watershed districts work on water planning and management; wetland protection; soil conservation; stream and lake bank stabilization; flood protection; and other related water projects.

The watershed district: would be administered by a board of five, originally appointed by BWSR but after one year appointed by the county commissioners; would be funded by a property tax on the watershed (estimated at less than $24 per $100,000 of taxable property value); could hire a professional coordinator; could seek state and federal grant money; would conduct an annual audit and report of its finances; would have a citizen’s advisory committee; and would hold meetings open to the public.

Once the petitions are submitted, BWSR would hold local hearings to inform the public about the watershed district and to gather input from the public about the proposal.



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