Jacob Rischmiller is with the engineering firm ISG and presented a report to the County Board of Commissioners on County Ditch 18. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

At this morning’s special meeting of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners, the board unanimously approved a resolution to deny a citizen petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the proposed County Ditch 18 improvement project. Members of the environmental group the Izaak Walton League had raised a number of concerns about the ditch project, accusing it of increasing flow discharge, runoff volumes and the duration of flow to downstream waters. They also accused the project of increasing erosion and sediment loads.

But Jacob Rischmiller with the engineering firm ISG presented a report to the Board addressing each of the petitioner concerns. He said the engineering report shows a decrease in flow, a pond taking on much of the sedimentation for an overall decrease in sedimentation downstream, no permanent wetland impacts, and even some benefits to wildlife by adding the storage areas to the ditch.

“We have seen new wildlife return to a site,” said Rischmiller. “In that one, we saw deer come back to the ditch area. We’ve also seen mallards return, cormets return, more geese return. So, we’ve seen wildlife benefit by adding storage and implementing water quality aspects to the project.”

Rischmiller also noted that the DNR has given its approval for the project, and the County’s assessment was that there would be no significant environmental impacts. Members of the public have 30 days to appeal the Board’s decision.

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Also at the County meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of a Mack Truck for $221,000, and a lease-to-own agreement for a Case Wheel Loader for over $200,000. The County will pay for it and take possession in 2020.

In addition, the Commissioners approval a contract for the Highway Building project, but only to its maximum bonding level of $2.75 million.

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