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Douglas County's main ditch to get 4% levy

Wetland restoration project also approved for Joint County Ditch No. 2, also known as JD2, which flows into Lake Osakis.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Nov. 30 secured its final permit for a proposed wetland restoration near I-94, a project it says could help with water quality in Lake Osakis,

Landowner Gary Ellis wanted to restore 60 acres in Orange Township near I-94 primarily for wildlife, but it would also divert pollutants, including sediment, into ponds on his place.

"With these wetland restorations, you get all sorts of benefits," said wildlife biologist Shawn Papon. "We're in it for the waterfowl, but you get flood reduction, groundwater recharge, water quality benefits."

Repair and maintenance of the wetlands will become the responsibility of the U.S. government, not the landowners whose land is drained by the ditch system, Papon told members of the Drainage Authority for Joint County Ditch No. 2.

The authority includes county commissioners from Douglas and Todd counties who voted to approve the project, with the exception of Todd County Commissioner Randy Neumann, who voted against it.

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Board members also approved a 4% levy for the ditch, also known as JD2, which will bring in $58,466 to maintain and repair the ditch system. JD2 includes the main ditch and 19 branches, forks and spurs. Last year's levy was 3%.

More then 600 separate landowners or entities pay to maintain JD2, said Douglas County Drainage Inspector Tom Anderson, citing a 2010 report.

The ditch was established in 1909, Anderson said. Its 37 miles of open ditch drain more than 60 square miles into Lake Osakis. The ditch system was set up to drain wetlands so the land could be farmed.

During the Nov. 30 meeting, the drainage authority also agreed to clean 5,100 feet of Branch 5, which has become overgrown with cattails.

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