The Nature Conservancy and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District announced today that construction of a new floodwater storage and retention pond in Riverton Township is underway. The project will help alleviate flooding and erosion problems for homes and farms located downstream as well as residences and businesses in Glyndon. The project will also result in 200 acres being restored to prairie and wetland. Prairie Restorations Inc. is seeding the land with native prairie seed and Nanik Construction is building the earthen dikes.
“This is a great opportunity to work in collaboration with the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District and make a big difference for everyone who lives and farms in this area,” said Brian Winter, director of the Conservancy’s Northern Tallgrass Prairie office in Glyndon. “The real improvement is flood damage reduction, but the project will also benefit migratory shorebirds and native prairie plants.”
Bruce Albright, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District Administrator, said the Red River Valley needs more such collaborative projects to help control localized flooding.
“For years, the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District has had to deal with numerous complaints in the project area,” Albright said. “The development of this important flood damage reduction and natural resource enhancement project should go a long way towards addressing these problems. We need more partners like The Nature Conservancy to help identify areas where water can be stored and slowed down to minimize the risk of flooding to both people and property.”
The project is designed to reduce flooding along Clay County Ditch No. 12 and protect not only a nearby subdivision in Riverton Township but also homes and farmland located downstream and even residents and businesses in Glyndon. A little more than a decade ago, floodwater escaped from this same ditch and flowed into Glyndon.
To help keep that from happening again, a 1.5-mile long earthen dam up to seven feet tall will be constructed on former cropland owned by the Conservancy.
The impoundment is designed to store up to 507 acre feet of water. An acre foot is equal to 325,841 gallons. Engineers for the watershed district have determined that the project will reduce runoff between 3.7 percent and 69.4 percent, depending on storm duration and magnitude.
The project is expected to be completed in spring 2009.
The Conservancy purchased the land where the retention pond will be built about a decade ago to help conserve additional grassland adjacent next to Bluestem Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. More than 98 percent of northern tallgrass prairie in the United States has been lost to cropland and development. The Conservancy-owned preserve is recognized as one of the largest and best quality northern tallgrass prairies remaining in the United States.
“By using this former cropland to store floodwater, we’re helping our neighbors and the nearby community,” Winter said. “The beauty of this project is its water storage capacity—a true solution to flooding problems. Too often localized flooding problems are solved with bigger and deeper water drainage ditches, only to increase flows and flood damage further downstream in the watershed. This project will store water that will be slowly released after the flooding risk has passed.”
Bluestem Prairie covers almost 6,000 acres and is home to the federally-protected western prairie fringed orchid, along with more than 300 other native plant species. It is a haven for rare butterflies and grassland birds including the greater prairie chicken. The preserve is open to the public for compatible outdoor recreation, such as hiking, birding and nature study.
In Minnesota, the Conservancy has helped conserve more than 350,000 acres since 1958. The Conservancy has 23,000 members in Minnesota and offices in Minneapolis, Cushing, Paynesville, Grand Rapids, Glyndon, Duluth, Karlstad, Mentor and Preston. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at nature.org/minnesota.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.