Shutdown slows work on CRWD projects

Published 9:23 am Monday, July 4, 2011

Among numerous organizations that will experience setbacks from the state shutdown, some local conservation projects will take a back seat, as well.

The Cedar River Watershed District, which planned late-summer work on two stream-bank restorations near Austin, will have to put a hold on its construction, which it is nearly ready to undertake. The projects aim to repair banks, reduce erosion and pollution and strengthen the structure of a gravel road.

CRWD Resource Specialist Justin Hanson said any length of shutdown will be a thorn in CRWD employees’ sides, as they may sit idle for awhile.

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“The way things are going now, if this goes a month or two, we’re going to be in a little bit of a tough situation,” he said. “We have so many projects and only so many staff to cover it.”

Though the projects Hanson refers to have already been funded through Minnesota’s Clean Land, Water and Legacy Fund, the state is currently unable to pay its share of the projects if construction were to begin.

Furthermore, three wetland restoration projects on private lands will have to wait. The projects would’ve included tile removal and installation of earth embankments this summer. The restorations, which Mower Soil and Water Conservation District helped coordinate with private landowners, are supposed to be funded through the Reinvest in Minnesota initiative (RIM) to become permanent easements. But the RIM funds won’t be available during the shutdown, either.

Hanson and other CRWD members have been eagerly waiting for many months to start the stream-bank restorations and see the private wetland restorations materialize. Now they may wait longer.

“The timing for the the shutdown wasn’t very good, so we’ve come to a screeching halt,” Hanson said.