WALKER — Cass County Board voted Tuesday to proceed with removing beavers and their dams from Drainage Ditch 9 this fall.
The open ditch follows about four miles of the general route of Hay Creek in Cass County. Ultimately, the creek flows into Upper Hay Lake in Crow Wing County. It originally was constructed in 1918-19 and assessed against a number of property owners along the route.
The board’s motion Tuesday stipulates that after beavers are removed, their dams would be removed gradually by mechanical methods, not dynamiting, over time, so as to minimize the effect of increased water flow downstream and in Upper Hay Lake.
Several Upper Hay Lake residents spoke to the board during a Sept. 26 public hearing, expressing their concerns about potential water level increases. Their concerns also centered on potential sediment movement into the lake and potential for clouding lake water clarity.
The board’s decision to require mechanical dam removal rather than allowing dynamite to be used is in response to these concerns. No channel dredging is planned at this time.
The commissioners authorized a $30,000 special levy maximum, to be assessed against the same properties assessed in 1918-19. If a cash balance remains after the initial work, that would be applied toward continuing ditch maintenance as long as funds last.
Property owners could pay the assessment in full or over three years. If extended over three years, 2 percent interest would be charged on remaining balance the second and third year.
Once the work is completed, Cass commissioners will hold another public hearing to formally order the assessment amount for each property.
Consulting Attorney Kurt Deter told those landowners who attended the Sept. 26 hearing they could petition the county board at the assessment hearing or, ultimately, district court to have their property removed from the assessment if they can show a reason that their property no longer benefits from the ditch.
Such a petition likely would require engineering data to support that position.
The board will notify benefitting properties and advertise the public hearing to determine assessments after the work is completed this fall.