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Watershed district sets 2018 budget

WORTHINGTON — Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District managers on Tuesday approved a 2018 budget of more than $586,000, with a large share of its expenses for the year earmarked for renovations to the Lake Ocheda dam.

Administrator Dan Livdahl said the district anticipates spending approximately $380,000 for a fish barrier and improvements to the dam, which was constructed in 1940 or 1941 by the Works Progress Administration.

By setting the district’s levy at the maximum amount in recent years, money was set aside to help fund the project. Livdahl said $260,000 in the district savings account will be used for the project.

An estimated $52,000 is still needed, and Livdahl a loan could be sought through Nobles County Pheasants Forever’s SMART (Southwest Minnesota Area Resource Trust), a fund established 30 years ago to use as down payments or seed money to purchase property. Livdahl said that since the state created a funding source through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment, the SMART fund has not been needed.

The county’s invasive species grant dollars may also be a source of funding, particularly for the new fish barrier, while Bob Demuth Jr. suggested the E.O. Olson Fund may contribute a grant for the project.

“Our first step is to have Ducks Unlimited do the engineering so we have a good idea of what it will cost,” Livdahl said.

In other business, the board:

  • Set 4 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Nobles County Public Works facility as the date and location for a public hearing regarding Osceola County, Iowa’s plans to replace the bridge over the Ocheyedan River, south of the Lake Bella dam, this year. The plans include replacing the bridge, constructed in 1946, with two precast concrete culverts. Easements are requested from the watershed district for both construction and installation of wider culverts.
  • Learned of a University of Minnesota-led research project on pollinator plots and discussed the possibility of establishing a plot on the former Prairie View Golf Links property. The land would need to be prepped this spring, with planting done in the fall.

Nobles SWCD District Manager John Shea said the researchers want to see how both native and honey bees respond to small and large pollinator plots. They were seeking plots of 1 to 15 acres in size.

  • Cast a unanimous ballot for the 2018 slate of officers, with Les Johnson as chairman, Rolf Mahlberg as vice-chairman, Jeff Rogers as secretary and Casey Ingenthron as treasurer.
Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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