Monthly Archives: March 2020

BRRWD Administrator Albright Retires

At their regular meeting held on March 23, 2020, at 7:00 PM in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), received news that long-time BRRWD Administrator Bruce E. Albright will retire on 5/1/20.  On March 10, 1980, the BRRWD approved a proposal from then District Engineer Robert Muscha, Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), for HEI to provide staff for the watershed office.  Albright assumed the Administrator position on May 12, 1980.  Over his 40-year career, Albright was known locally and state-wide for his skilled leadership and water management expertise.  The Board has assigned Assistant Administrator Kathleen Fenger to the position of Interim BRRWD Administrator until they have determined HEI’s future role in staffing the BRRWD Barnesville office.

Business included:

  • Reviewed the BRRWD’s financial status. Cash on hand is $2,206,610.70.  Total income this year is $286,169.85.  Income since the 3/09/20 meeting totals $8,542.75 from the Red River Watershed Management Board for Mediation Project Team expenses.  The Board approved the payment of bills totaling $37,646.66.

  • Discussed the response from the Minnesota Data Practices Office regarding Clay County’s Open Meeting Law violation concerns, which was that “there would not be an Open Meeting Law violation when a Board goes into closed session even though it did not include a closed session on its meeting agenda.”

  • Approved a request from the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District for a $25,000 contribution to their Cover Crop Incentive Program.

  • Discussed the BRRWD’s COVID-19 Action Plan. The Board agreed to cancel the 4/13/20 meeting and postpone the recently scheduled project and ditch system meetings and hearings until further notice.

  • Approved permits to the City of Moorhead to decommission a sanitary lift station in the Regal Estates mobile home park and relocate a new lift station to the north in the SE¼, Section 4, Moorhead Township, Clay County, and Four Hills Farm to install a Natural Resources Conservation Service designed grade stabilization project in the SW¼, Section 2, Humboldt Township, Clay County.

  • Approved signature of a $1.5 million Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant agreement for the stream restoration component of the Stony Creek Restoration Project and to authorize HEI to move forward with the project’s Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and permitting process.

  • Discussed an application for grant funding for a potential project to establish a corridor for a future habitat restoration project on the Otter Tail River using Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) funding. LSOHC funding would be used to acquire voluntary conservation easements along the river channel corridor for a future project. Easements would be acquired through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and its Reinvest In Minnesota easement program.

  • Discussed repair options and cost estimates for proposed repair of Wilkin County Ditch No. 27. The new information will be forwarded to the ditch system landowners for their review and comment.

  • Requested a formal proposal from Moorhead State University-Moorhead Archaeological Department for a cultural review of the Whiskey Creek channel, which will be required for the EAW and the DNR permit application for the proposed channel restoration project.

  • Authorized HEI to contact the landowners on several Wilkin County ditch systems regarding the staking and seeding of approximately 40-50 acres of buffers that are out of compliance with the 2015 State Buffer Law. The letter will include an advisory that if the buffers are disturbed again, the landowners will be held responsible for reseeding costs.

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, April 27, 2020, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office.  Due to the COVID-19 emergency, we are going to hold an electronic meeting in accordance with Minnesota Statutes Annotated, Section 13D.021.  The conference line information is: Toll Free 1-833-403-3948 or Local 701-499-9476.  Access Code 2503.  Conference PIN 1401.  More information will be posted on the BRRWD’s website prior to the meeting at www.brrwd.org.

BRRWD Awards Contract

At their regular meeting held on March 9, 2020, at 7:00 PM in Barnesville, the Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), awarded the contract to repair the Clay County Ditch (C.D.) Nos. 41, 47, and 50 concrete liners to Key Contracting, Inc., West Fargo, for their bid of $159,100. The Engineer’s estimated project cost was $190,000. The concrete ditch liners were constructed in the 1990s in Moorhead and Dilworth with the assistance of the Economic Development Administration.

Business included:

• Approved the BRRWD’s monthly financial statements, including the project account balance sheet, administrative disbursements, and summary of income. Cash on hand is $2,403,892.07. Administrative disbursements this month equal $21,457.70 and for the year, total $75,207.83. 2020 Accounts Receivable total $6,738,798. Total income this year is $277,627.10. Income received since the 2/10/20 meeting totaled $12,915.69, including a Upper South Branch of the Buffalo River-Phase 1 grant payment from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council ($5,333.25), a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Upper Buffalo River 319 Grant Payment ($579.80), and a contribution from Hamden Township for the Becker C.D. No. 15-Branch 7 repair ($2,500). The remainder of the income came from Midwest Bank for February interest ($4,228.85), a refund from Premium Waters, Inc. ($48.79), and Houston Engineering, Inc. for their monthly office rent ($225). The Board approved the payment of bills totaling $205,824.12.

• Discussed the Clay County Board of Commissioners’ concerns about the process used to hire an expert witness for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) contested case proceeding. County Commissioners Jenny Mongeau and Kevin Campbell voiced the County’s concern about the Board’s lack of transparency regarding the expert witness hiring and payment. They also discussed potential BRRWD Open Meeting Law violations.

• Appointed BRRWD President Jay Leitch to be the designated signee for the DNR contested case legal documents.

• Approved a motion to enter into a 50-year monitoring easement agreement with the Minnesota Land Committee for a parcel of BRRWD buyout property associated with the Georgetown Levee project to conduct their biotic and geomorphic survey for the Diversion project. This initial monitoring will establish a baseline for biotic and geomorphic conditions for comparison to mid-construction and post-construction conditions to determine if the project caused any changes to the biotic or soil conditions. If there are changes attributable to the project, then there would be opportunities for the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) to use an adaptive management program in conjunction with a number of participating agencies. The COE plans to start the first round of monitoring in May. The Board also approved a motion to send a letter encouraging the Wilkin County landowners within the BRRWD’s jurisdiction to sign voluntary rights-of-entry easement agreements with the Minnesota-Clay County Joint Powers Agreement to obtain 2-year monitoring easements for the biotic and geomorphic survey.

• Approved permits to Larry Wiertzema to lower an existing driveway culvert to grade along 280th AVE in the S½SE¼, Section 24, Meadows Township, Wilkin County, subject to township approval to work within their road right-of-way (R/W).

• Received an update regarding the status of the Stony Creek Restoration project easement option acquisitions. All but two options have now been forwarded to the landowners for signature.

• Received an update regarding the status of the Wolverton Creek Restoration project Phase 2 easement acquisitions. About two-thirds of the easements are in place with only three landowners left to finalize their easements. Plans are to open bids in late April or May.

• Noted that the Wilkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) held a landowner informational meeting on 3/6/20 to discuss the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) grant program. In order to access the potential NWQI funding (estimated $2.9 million) to defray local project costs, landowners can work with Craig Lingen, SWCD, and John Quast, NRCS to implement conservation practices on their private land through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

• Accepted the Wilkin C.D. No. 6A Viewers’ Report for the Redetermination of Benefits proceeding. The Viewers based their benefit rates on a percentage of the county’s Estimated Market Value for the land with benefits, totaling approximately $6 million, which also includes the City of Rothsay. Following the Board’s acceptance of the Report, a redetermination of benefits hearing notice will be published in the Wahpeton Daily News. The redetermination hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 7:00 PM in the BRRWD office. An informational meeting/open house is also tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 2, 2020, for the landowners to meet with the Viewers to ask questions.

• Approved an Order to move forward with the acquisition of R/W for Clay C.D. Nos. 20, 22, 23, 28, and 51 buffer installation in accordance with the 2015 State Buffer Rule. A second Order was also approved to remove approximately 150 acres from the benefit area of C.D. No. 28.

• Approved signing a revised cost-share agreement for the COE Section 1135 Study for the Lower Otter Tail River Revised Project Management Plan. The original 2017 estimate was $340,000 with the COE paying the first $100,000 and the COE and the BRRWD splitting the remainder 50/50. The new cost estimate has risen to $753,749 with the BRRWD’s share now at $326,912.50.
• Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Clay County Highway Department to replace culverts on Clay C.D. Nos. 11N and 9, south of Moorhead.

• Authorized Jeff Nichol, William Nichol Excavating, Inc., to remove a logjam along the South Branch of the Buffalo River just west of the City of Glyndon for his quote of $3,938.

• Approved a new technical service contract with Marco Technologies for our M-Files data management program.

The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, March 23, 2020, at 7:00 PM in the Barnesville office. Due to the Coronavirus or COVID-19, we are going to hold an electronic meeting in accordance with Minnesota Statute, Section 13D.021. The conference line information is: Toll Free 1-833-403-3948 or Local 701-499-9476. Access Code 2503. Conference PIN 1401. We thank you for your understanding during these difficult times and look forward to returning to our regular meeting format as soon as conditions allow. More information will be posted on the BRRWD’s website prior to the meeting at www.brrwd.org.