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Group rallies for North Dakota diversion

FARGO More than 100 local residents gathered Wednesday to raise their voices against a Minnesota flood diversion. "We're a bunch of nobodies," Moorhead resident Marc Nokken said. "We tried to be quiet, polite. Then nothing happened." That's when ...

FARGO

More than 100 local residents gathered Wednesday to raise their voices against a Minnesota flood diversion.

"We're a bunch of nobodies," Moorhead resident Marc Nokken said. "We tried to be quiet, polite. Then nothing happened."

That's when they decided to band together in a group called Citizens for a North Dakota Diversion.

Their hope is to send a message to policymakers by showing support for a North Dakota diversion.

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"It just doesn't make sense to go here," Moorhead resident Vic Krabbenhoft said. "It's too detrimental."

The group is collecting signatures for a petition supporting a North Dakota diversion. Plans are to present it to the Minnesota congressional delegation.

"If this is going to be a local decision and we're going to pay for it, we need to talk," Clay County farmer Mike Astrup told residents. "They need to know your thinking as well."

A preliminary analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that diversion options would cross fewer tributaries and be less expensive in Minnesota.

That may be, residents said Wednesday, but they argue that a Minnesota diversion doesn't make sense because of the higher elevation on the Minnesota side of the Red River. Plus, they say, with a North Dakota diversion, fewer acres would be flooded.

"It's frustrating - common sense does not prevail," Nokken said.

They also argue that North Dakota and Minnesota residents favor a North Dakota diversion.

"It's interesting; every governmental agency in the area, with the exception of Fargo, has said we would prefer a North Dakota diversion," Astrup said.

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That leaves residents like Dean Jacobsen convinced that a Minnesota diversion isn't the way to go. With his land being affected by it, the proposed diversion seems to have little benefit and big consequences.

"It is for a lot of people here," he said.

The group plans to continue to meet to discuss plans and show its support for a North Dakota diversion.

"The stakes are high, the costs are high, and this is forever," Astrup said. "This affects quality of life for generations."

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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