The Polk County Board has been expressing concern lately over the United State Government Fish and Wildlife Service not paying ditch assessments on Waterfowl Production Areas. These are lands we duck hunters fund as we annually purchase Duck Stamps.
Perhaps a little history lesson would be in order for the Board.
I'm sure the lands in question are in the Sandhill River Watershed.
Originally the Sandhill River west of Fertile had no real outlet to the Red River. Water flowing from Fosston, Winger area flowed into the Beltrami Swamp - a wetland covering at least the area of three townships around Beltrami.
In the early 1900's the State of Minnesota began the drainage of the swamp and provided an outlet for the Sandhill River. In the mid 1950's - not that long ago - the United States Army Corps of Engineers finished the job providing a straight ditch west of Fertile to the Red River.
This put about three townships of land in the Red River Valley on the Polk County tax rolls as cropland instead of swampland. It also provided a drainage outlet for a lot of farmland from Fertile all the way to the Fosston area.
Projects like these after the second World War and into the 1950's so alarmed sportsmen at the time that the State of Minnesota began the "Save the Wetlands" program to purchase marches for hunting and wildlife benefits. A surcharge on hunting licenses paid for the land.
State and Federal government drainage of the Beltrami Swamp provided multi-millions of dollars in benefits to Polk County and residents.
And yet Polk County, no doubt the richest county in all of western Minnesota, has its hand out for even more.
With demands like this it's easy to see why Uncle Sam has just decided to close the doors for a while.