ROSEAU, Minn. – A group of farmers and landowners in Roseau County has launched a formal campaign against a proposed flood control project it says would require landowners to sign easements or potentially lose the land through eminent domain.

The Roseau County Landowners Coalition on Tuesday, July 28, parked two 50-foot trailers in Roseau to spread the word about the project, which it said would “devastate their productive family farmlands for no real benefit.”

The coalition of about 50 members has teamed up with the Institute for Justice, a national nonprofit opposing the misuse of eminent domain.

Located northwest of Roseau near what’s known locally as “the lake bottom,” the land is just south of the old Roseau Lake basin, which was drained for agriculture in 1914 but is prone to frequent flooding.

Coalition members said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Roseau River Watershed District are demanding flood easements that would make the land unfarmable, with little evidence the plan will minimize flooding.

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Citing a report by Patrick Nortz, an Ohio-based licensed hydrologist and certified professional engineer, the coalition said the project will only reduce downstream flooding by 5% at a cost of more than $10 million.

A 2017 report from the Minnesota DNR says a primary purpose of the project is to use the basin’s water storage capacity to “reduce peak flows on the Roseau River downstream of the lake bed by 10% or more compared to current current conditions as well as reduce the footprint of the 100-year floodplain.”

Minnesota’s Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, tasked with restoring, protecting and enhancing Minnesota’s wetlands and wildlife, has committed $2.67 million from the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund toward the Roseau Lake project. The coalition said it will send a letter to LSOHC on Wednesday outlining its opposition to the project and “expressing their dismay” at being left out of the process, the news release states.

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