Goehring unveils program targeting flooded river bottom land

GRANVILLE A new program is designed to provide financial assistance to landowners along the Souris River whose property was adversely affected by the 2011 flood, primarily by silt deposits and the emergence of unwanted weed growth.

About 100 persons attended an informational session at the Granville Community Center Wednesday morning. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring unveiled the Land Enhancement and Habitat Renewal Program which will provide 50 percent reimbursement for specific expenses associated with reclamation, landscaping, soil conditions, revegetation and weed control in flooded areas of the Souris River, Little Missouri River and Missouri River.

“I can tell you that I believe the great majority of applications are going to be from this Mouse River watershed area,” said Goehring. “I know it’s not going to solve everybody’s problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The funding, $40,000, was made available to the N.D. Department of Agriculture through the U.S. Forest Service. Eligibility provisions for cost sharing includes the requirement that negatively impacted areas be at least 10 percent forest cover or immediately adjacent to forest cover. Also, emphasized Goehring, weed control is an important component for all applicants to consider.

“Because of the grant program that we are accessing to do this, these are some federal funds, is that it has to be centered around and focused on noxious weed control, eradication and management,” said Goehring. “This program will also help you out with respect to any pesticide application and the pesticide itself, paying up to 50 percent of the cost share there.”

Goehring told that gathering that applications for the program will be accepted through Sept. 13 and that his office hopes to award grant dollars as soon as Oct. 1. However, he added, due to the expected number of initial applications his department would likely have to prioritize requests.

“It is going to be a case by case situation. You will be eligible to reapply next spring if denied,” said Goehring.

The second and final phase of the grant program will see an additional $50,000 available in the spring of 2014.

After a brief question and answer session regarding the new program, several attendees asked Goehring about flood control issues of concern to landowners along the lower reaches of the Souris River. Some cited the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge as an impediment to river flows, saying it prolongs flooding along the Souris.

At one point during the discussion Goehring responded, “Your issue is to move the water out of here. I’m so frustrated with the refuge.”

The comment was the only one to draw applause during the meeting.

One member of the audience said, “Minot gets what they want and we are forgotten.”

Goehring repeatedly told the group that the greatest number of people always attracts the most attention.

Application forms for the Land Enhancement and Habitat Renewal Program are available on the NDDA website.