6/6/2019 11:07:00 AM Leech Lake River watershed management plan put into motion
MONICA LUNDQUIST Cass County Correspondent
WALKER-Cass County commissioners adopted a Leech Lake River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan Tuesday, June 4.
It could be the first of six such One Watershed One Plan projects to coordinate neighboring county comprehensive plans, which can guide development in watersheds overlapping county boundaries.
These plans ultimately will open the way to qualify projects within the watersheds to become eligible for state Board of Soil and Water Resources funding to carry out projects.
The Leech Lake River plan was jointly developed by Cass and Hubbard counties, but Environmental Services Director John Ringle said, because a small portion of the watershed lies in Beltrami, he expects that county board and its soil and water conservation board to also sign onto the plan.
The next step, he said, will be to develop an implementation plan and to have BWSR approve that.
Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk expressed concern that these plans could lead to loss of local county control over comprehensive plan goals and future actions. Ringle said the Leech Lake River plan has a 30-day opt out clause in it if that should occur.
The Pine River Watershed plan has been prepared with Cass and Crow Wing counties as partners. It must first be approved by BWSR - probably this fall - before it would move into a stage where the county boards and local SWCDs can consider approving it, Ringle said.
A Mississippi Headwaters plan involving Cass, Beltrami, Hubbard, Clearwater and Itasca counties recently began drafting an initial plan. Approval is expected to be a year away, he said.
Three additional One Watershed One Plan projects include one for the Crow Wing River, another Mississippi River plan that would include Cass, Itasca and Aitkin counties and a Mississippi River plan for the Brainerd area. None of those have been started, Ringle said.
In other business Tuesday, the county board:
Approved increasing the garbage hauler tipping fee from $73.91 to $74.91 per ton to cover the county's increasing cost to dispose of solid waste, and to raise the cost charged for recyclables haulers who collect from outside Cass County and bring to the county's transfer station north of Pine River from $88.91 to $107.29 per ton.
Recyclables collected within the county are not charged a fee, because county landowners pay a solid waste fee annually on the property tax bills to offset the county's cost for that service. There is no plan to increase that at this time.
Learned the county likely will get more funding through Minnesota Department of Human Services to offset the county's costs for trying to prevent opioid addiction and to treat those who suffer from that.
Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Michele Piprude said state legislation passed this session will help with the county's costs to transport people to methadone clinics and provide family and individual services for people trying to overcome addiction.
Cass County assisted in arranging or making payments for 2,657 rides to methadone clinics in 2018.
She said opioids are the most common cause of overdoses.
Learned Longville Ambulance Service continued to serve more patients the first quarter of 2019, with 84 people transported, compared with 75 last year.
The service took in $230,950 the first quarter this year and spent $206,551 for a net margin of 10.6 percent.
Kevin Lee, director, said the Longville service has not had as much trouble attracting paramedics as other services, because five of its emergency medical technicians have taken advance training to become certified as paramedics.
Learned the county received an additional, previously sequestered $15,589.20 from the Chippewa National Forest Fund for 2019.
The county highway department will receive half of that, with the balance distributed to school districts at Walker, Cass Lake, Remer and Deer River.
Learned the county also received an additional $12,625 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources distributed from the federal supplemental boating safety patrol grant.
This grant pays for enforcement services for boating while intoxicated, personal watercraft operation, careless and reckless operation, speed and wake violations, use of navigation lights and other boating equipment and registration violations.
Authorized the land department to issue haying permits to Larry Converse in May Township, Rodney Aker in McKinley Township and Terry Mejdrich in Smoky Hollow Township, who each will pay the county $25 to cut hay on county land.
Approved contracts with Future Forests for $9,380 to trench and spray 67 acres, and for $2,747 to spray 31 acres of county administered land in preparation for future planting on five sites with Norway and white pine seedlings.
Approved a contract with Mustang Forestry for $13,800 to hand release young trees planted on county land in Poplar Township. Mustang's bid was the lower of two received.
Approved a contract with Justin Sawyer for up to $7,500 to repair three washouts on Snoway 1 recreational trail in Bungo Township. None of the six other contractors contacted submitted bids.
Approved a letter of support from Land Commissioner Kirk Titus for the American Bird Conservancy's application for Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Funds to improve habitat for the golden-winged warbler, American woodcock and ruffed grouse.
Accepted a mini-grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for $900 to support family home visiting programs to benefit at-risk children, promote life-long health and reduce the need for future community spending on social programs.
Accepted $41,252 per year Minnesota Department of Health grants for each of the next four years to provide home visits to foster improved pregnancy outcomes, promote healthy parenting, provide reproductive health planning, increase school readiness, prevent child abuse and neglect and promote goals and resiliency.
Approved a contract with Dr. Steven Fisker of Brainerd Medical Center to serve as the county's consulting physician through June 30, 2020, at a $100 per hour rate, not to exceed $2,000 per year. The board also named Dr. Fisker to the county's Health, Human and Veterans Services Advisory Committee.
Approved out of state travel for probation department employee Travis Fisher to the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies in San Diego in September.
The county board asked Administrator Joshua Stevenson to have employees approved for out-of-state travel to report back to the board on the benefits they gain by attending training and conferences.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.