ROSEAU, Minn.—Today, the Roseau County Landowners Coalition sent the Roseau River Watershed District (RRWD) board and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a letter explaining why they oppose the pointless land grab, which would flood their farmland and render it useless. The letter follows comments made by an Roseau Lake Project engineer at the board’s February meeting—made difficult for the public to participate in—questioning what precisely Roseau Lake’s farmers contested with the project.
The Roseau County Landowners Coalition has worked alongside the Institute for Justice (IJ), a national nonprofit dedicated to stopping government abuse of property rights. This month, the coalition sent postcards to each Roseau farmer to poll their thoughts on the project. All responses indicated opposition.
“This is the third year Roseau’s farmers have been ringing the alarm about what their families and community stand to lose from a project that would devastate their productive farmland. While the watershed district board has been making it harder for the public to make their objections to this harmful project heard, Roseau farmers will do whatever it takes to educate the public about the cost of this project,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Chad Reese. “We hope that this letter can once and for all make clear why this project should not even be considered. It is never too late to do the right thing.”
The coalition has previously highlighted the injustice of the DNR being both the project proposer and reviewer, and RRWD for its failure to honor its mediation agreement concerning flood damage reduction projects, noting the proposed Roseau Lake project will do nothing for exceptional storms, a benchmark agreed upon for flood reduction projects. The project work team, which includes landowners and whose participation in project development is required by the agreement, has also been largely ignored by the RRWD for years.
The given justification for the project has constantly changed—from a wetland habitat for ducks, to an attempt at flood reduction for areas outside Roseau, to a project for recreational activities. But for whatever reason the state uses to move the project forward, it would mean one thing for Roseau landowners: they would lose the farmland that they worked so hard to own and would no longer be able to pass it down to their children.
Take the story of Mitch Magnusson, who grew up on his Roseau farm and has worked his own land since the 1980s; his great grandfather put down roots there in 1895. Now, Mitch’s children carry on the family tradition, farming wheat, soybean, sunflowers and more. This family tradition would be crushed by the project.
“I think it’s sad that they’re moving ahead with this project and not taking into consideration landowners for the project,” said Magnusson. “I’d like to see the board work with landowners.”
The Roseau County Landowners Coalition has created a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopRoseauFarmsLandgrab/, and a website, http://roseaulandgrab.com, to educate and garner support for families like Mitch’s.