Every acre of Crow Wing County will be photographed from the sky next spring, and at a higher resolution than ever before.

County commissioners on Tuesday, May 11, unanimously approved two three-year contracts with EagleView, a company providing aerial imagery as well as geospatial software and analytics. EagleView will conduct two countywide flyovers over the course of six years, providing both orthomosaic and oblique imagery. Orthomosaic means the photographs are taken directly above an area, while oblique means the photos are captured at 45-degree angles from north, south, east and west.

“So if I build a pole barn, don’t get a permit and then you come out and I try to tell you, ‘No, I’ve had it there for a long time,’ all you have to do is pull up the pictures and prove me wrong?” Commissioner Paul Koering asked Land Services Director Gary Griffin during the meeting.

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Griffin affirmed Koering’s example, noting they can settle neighborly disputes, show how shoreline vegetation was altered over time, or determine how many acres a wetland covers.

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“It’s a huge tool,” Griffin said. “We have a catalog since 2010 of historical photos that help us if we get into those situations.”

Beyond uses for assessing the value of properties and researching and enforcing land use or other ordinance violations, aerial photography is used by multiple county departments, Griffin said. This includes the highway department when planning and evaluating road projects and the sheriff’s office, which uses the photos for a variety of calls, according to Sheriff Scott Goddard.

“We use it with search warrants, so we can identify buildings, we can identify windows and doors on certain sides of residences, and also for searches,” Goddard told the board. “Let’s say if we have a lost child or something and we’re looking for an area of wetland or an area we’re going to have a hard time to get through. … Mapping is a huge part of what we do.”

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The cost of the two contracts totals $305,700. This is paid annually at a rate of $50,955 each year from the land-based unallocated fund, which is revenue generated by the recording of land documents.

This is an increase of $3,600 annually over the previous three-year contract, Griffin noted, covering an improvement in image resolution. The city of Baxter covers the add-on costs for even higher resolution within city limits. This is a benefit to county officials as well, Griffin said, since they complete assessing work and monitor compliance with the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act in Baxter.

Flyovers for aerial photography are scheduled six to eight months in advance to ensure compliance with the regulations of Camp Ripley.

In other business, the county board:

Authorized community services to apply for a Community Impact Funds grant from Sourcewell to continue the work of the Collaborative Intensive Bridging Services Program, currently funded through a Systems of Care grant from the state. If awarded, the grant funds would be used to expand the work of the program throughout Region Five. The program “focuses on strengthening parents by providing intensive mental health services for youths 8-17 years old in the family home and community, teaching coping skills, building supports, and limiting time out of the home for placement or (eliminating) need for out of home placement and more restrictive services,” a request for board action stated.

Authorized the sheriff’s office to enter grant agreements with the state of Minnesota providing funding toward water patrol. One grant in the amount of $19,500 provides supplemental funding for additional boating safety patrol hours during high-use periods. The other grant provides $47,863 toward the purchase of equipment. The federal government is the source of the funding provided through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Approved the hirings of the following people: Michael Kleineck, corrections officer, jail; Maggie Wassen, senior administrative specialist, community services; Masen Barton, corrections officer, jail; John Veugeler, corrections officer, jail; and Christopher Saicoe, corrections officer, jail.

Accepted the departures of Rachel Deck, corrections officer, jail, and Eric Stangler, patrol deputy, sheriff’s office. The board also approved replacement staffing for these positions.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.