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Corps seeks permission to survey for flood diversion in N.D., Minnesota

FARGO -- More than 200 landowners in Minnesota and North Dakota will be asked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next week to allow surveyors onto their property to gather data for a proposed Red River flood diversion channel.

FARGO -- More than 200 landowners in Minnesota and North Dakota will be asked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next week to allow surveyors onto their property to gather data for a proposed Red River flood diversion channel.

Letters will likely be mailed out Monday to 119 affected landowners in North Dakota and 116 in Minnesota, said Aaron Snyder, project manager for the corps.

Landowners will be asked to sign a right-of-entry form and return it to the corps by May 5.

The form will allow the corps and its contractors onto private land to survey soil and ground conditions, wetlands, environmental issues, culturally sensitive areas such as burial grounds or historic sites, and potential hazardous, toxic or radioactive waste.

Snyder said the surveys will help the corps determine the diversion's final alignment.

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"It's one of the critical pieces," he said.

"We need it to be able to identify all of the potential environmental impacts and then also to make sure that we're not impacting any cultural resources."

The governing bodies of Fargo, Moorhead and Cass and Clay counties have endorsed a nearly $1.3 billion North Dakota diversion channel capable of carrying 35,000 cubic feet of water per second as their locally preferred plan. The corps also continues to study a 20,000-cubic-feet-per-second channel in Minnesota.

The right-of-entry form covers an 18-month period, but Snyder said most of the surveying would be done this summer.

Surveyors won't drive on planted fields or otherwise damage land, he said, adding crews will do much of the surveying on foot.

"All individuals on your property will be respectful to you and your property," the letter to landowners states, according to a draft provided by the corps.

If a landowner refuses to sign the form, the corps will likely just skip their property and complete the surveys at a later time, Snyder said.

"If this occurs too often, we will need to revisit our strategy for acquiring the right of entries," he said. "At this point we are hopeful that we will get cooperation from the majority of the landowners."

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Landowners will receive maps with shaded areas showing where the channel and tieback levees will affect their parcels, he said.

Marty Johnson, who has reservations about a North Dakota diversion because he fears it would block township roads and cut off access to the farmstead that's been in his family for 114 years, said Friday he's willing to let surveyors onto his land.

"Until they come out and actually say it's going on the North Dakota side, I guess a survey isn't the end of the world," said Johnson, who hopes that what the corps finds will convince officials to pursue a Minnesota diversion.

The corps' letter to landowners also informs them of two upcoming public meetings on the project: June 9 at Minnesota State University Moorhead's Comstock Memorial Union and June 10 in Centennial Hall at the Fargo Civic Center. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m. with a presentation at 7 p.m.

Meetings specifically for landowners also are being planned for later in June.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are owned by Forum Communications Co.

Related Topics: 2010 FLOODS
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