Crow Wing County will administer the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act after the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District previously announced the district would stop in March.

The board of commissioners approved at its Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting a resolution to take over the administration for many cities in the county starting next year.

“As you know, this has been an item of discussion that we’ve had at both the July committee of the whole meeting and the September committee of the whole meeting,” said Jake Frie, a county environmental services supervisor.

Following the district board’s decision, cities would have to administer the act themselves and the county would have to administer the act for any townships formerly administered by the district, unless those townships choose a different arrangement according to state statute.

The scope of the Wetland Conservation Act includes draining, filling and, in some cases, excavating in wetlands is prohibited -- unless the drain, fill or excavation activity is exempt, or wetlands are replaced by restoring or creating wetland areas of at least equal public value.

The county will administer the act, for example, by dealing with questions related to filling, excavation or draining of wetlands from those areas in cities and townships in the county that were previously the responsibility of the conservation district.

In June, we received 10 resolutions signed by various cities asking the county to formally take over administration of the Wetland Conservation Act (on behalf of the cities) beginning in 2020,” Frie told the commissioners at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Those 10 cities are Baxter, Brainerd, Breezy Point, Crosby, Deerwood, Emily, Fifty Lakes, Garrison, Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. This month, the city of Cuyuna also requested the county administrate the Wetland Conservation Act of 1991 on that city’s behalf.

The county had administered the act for 28 townships (including unorganized territories), and Crosslake and Baxter, and the district had administered the act for all other cities, and Irondale and Crow Wing townships, from 2009 until the end of last year.

“At the (September) committee of the whole meeting, the county board recommended that land services staff formally seek a resolution for approval at a county board meeting to administer the Wetland Conservation Act (for those 11 cities) … beginning Jan. 1, 2020,” Frie said.

The county fee schedule will be changed to establish flat-rate annual fees for each of the cities that request the county administrate the Wetland Conservation Act on their behalf. Previously, there were no county fees to administer the act for the townships and the city of Baxter.

As of Nov. 5, six cities have not formally submitted a resolution asking the county to take over Wetland Conservation Act administration on their behalf: Fort Ripley, Ironton, Jenkins, Manhattan Beach, Riverton and Trommald.

“And any that aren’t on that list are part of this resolution, so the way we would handle that is, as they come in -- if they decide to do that -- we would just handle that at a separate county board meeting with a separate resolution to roll those in,” Frie told the board.

Other projected benefits of the county administering the act include better local coordination with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and increased capacity and structure for potential education and outreach opportunities to townships and cities about the act.

The Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District will continue handling formal enforcement of the Wetland Conservation Act violations, as well as hearing wetland-related applications and other issues.

“Have we reached out to those six cities to see what they’re thinking?” Commissioner Doug Houge asked Frie.

Frie replied, “Yes -- reached out by email to let them know that this is what we’re going to be doing, and if you’d like to get rolled into this, we’re going to this board meeting. Otherwise, at a later time, we’ll just roll you in later, so they’re aware of it.”

Commissioner Paul Koering made the motion to approve the resolution to adopt administration of the Wetland Conservation Act in Crow Wing County cities. Commissioner Steve Barrows seconded the motion, and the resolution was adopted unanimously.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the promotion of Joey Froelich, administrative services lead facilities worker; Troy Nash, sheriff’s office sergeant, investigations; Austin Kubesh, highway department heavy equipment mechanic; Makayla Ernst, community services probation agent; and Nicole DeGidio, community services social worker.

Authorized the county administrator to advertise for sealed bids to be received until 10 a.m. Dec. 4 for all legal printing and publishing for the county in accordance with Minnesota statutes.

Appointed as the Minnesota Department of Corrections representative on the county community corrections advisory board Mark Smith to replace Victor Moen.

Authorized the chairperson to sign a letter of commitment for Wellness in the Woods for the purpose of its grant application to provide to those in the county jail Wellness Recovery Action Plans, which are developed with individuals with the help of the support of a peer, who is able to follow and support the individual into the community.

Accepted a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services in the amount of $45,609 to provide mental health screenings by the county to eligible children or youths in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Approved a resolution that authorizes the county engineer to advertise for sealed bids for the construction of projects shown as 2020 improvements in the county 2019-23 highway improvement plan adopted in April by the board and 10 maintenance-related projects.

Scheduled a public hearing regarding a proposed revision to the existing county cost participation policy at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 11. The policy establishes how the county and local agencies intend to share the cost to construct, operate and maintain public transportation infrastructure located in areas of joint jurisdiction.

Scheduled a public hearing to consider adopting the 2020 county fee schedules for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

Accepted a donation in the amount of $100 from Cuyuna Regional Medical Center to the county mounted patrol.

Authorized the classification of a parcel of tax-forfeited property in Emily along Highway 6, south of Clearwater Drive, as nonconservation and authorized the direct sale of the parcel to an adjoining landowner for $10,000.

Authorized withdrawing two parcels of tax-forfeited property in Wolford Township from the tax-forfeit available over-the-counter list and authorized the direct sale of the parcels to an adjoining landowner at the sale price of $1,600 and $2,300.

Authorized fall sale of lands forfeited to the state for non-payment of taxes be sold for not less than the appraised value at public sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 6 at the county land services building and authorized terms for sales of forfeited lands.

Approved final payment in the amount of $7,292.60 to DeChantal Excavating LLC of Brainerd for the total contract amount of $965,589.49 for excavation services at the county landfill.

Approved the land use map amendment request of Steven Routledge of Crosslake from waterfront commercial with commercial 2 to shoreland district with rural residential 5 involving about 5 acres on Pine Terrace Road in Ideal Township.

FRANK LEE, county and features reporter, may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.