The Roseau Lake Rehabilitation Project threatens up to thousands of acres of our productive, family-owned, tax-generating farmland...to build a stagnant bog. This will not turn the basin into a lake that can be used in any meaningful way, nor will it significantly reduce flooding or foster a wildlife habitat. There is no real public benefit to justify the devastating cost to local farmers and taxpayers. We have been here for generations. Please help us protect our farms!
The stated purpose of the Roseau Lake Rehabilitation Project is “flood damage reduction and improved habitat for…wildlife.” They want to build a lake on the existing basin, that will supposedly minimize flooding. To accomplish this, the Roseau River Watershed District is seeking flood easements of our land, which will make our property unfarmable. If we don’t agree to these easements, they have said they will condemn our land through eminent domain.
Not a lake, but a stagnant pond that will typically be 6” deep and up to 18”—not a home for wildlife. Meanwhile, surrounding farmland will flood more. A licensed hydrologist estimated that this project will result in a mere 5% decrease in flooding downstream—at a hefty price tag north of $10 million to taxpayers. And the larger downstream floods, such as 10-year floods, will not be prevented. Many properties will continue to flood even if this flood plain is built.
The project is spearheaded by the Roseau River Watershed District, whose board members are not experts in hydrology—but hold our futures in their hands. The state Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council—charged with restoring, protecting, and enhancing Minnesota’s wetlands and wildlife, goals that will not be achieved by this project—has committed $2.67 million towards this landgrab.
Most of the farmers in the project area were not notified of the impact to their land during the early stages of this project. In fact, a number of us have only been informed in the past few months, although it has been in the planning stages for years, and has used taxpayers dollars to develop over the past decade. Despite the devastating impact this project would have on us, we still don’t know exactly how much of our land is at risk. To add insult to injury, we must spend our own hard-earned money to hire engineering and legal expertise to figure out what is going on, while the government gets to use your tax dollars.
If we don’t agree to flood easements, which would destroy our ability to farm, the government has said it can condemn our land through eminent domain. With huge costs and no clear public benefit, this project amounts to nothing more than a landgrab. And already, surveyors have begun entering fields, digging huge holes, and sampling the land—ruining crops in the process.
The Roseau County Landowners Coalition includes over 50 local farmers and landowners who oppose this effort.
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