LYON COUNTY BOARD MEETING Tuesday, January 17, 2022

Ag vs. habitat - board of directors feeling the burn

A skeptical Lyon County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Jan. 17 about a proposed planned controlled burn on roughly 880 acres at Black Rush Lake, across from Camden State Park to improve habitat and waterfowl production in that area.
Board Chair Rick Anderson took exception to the USFWS’s plan to burn sometime this spring — either in April or May — and its ultimate goal of using land that could otherwise be used for farming for an increase in wildlife habitat.
The USFWS currently has 18 easements in Lyon County that add up to 1,022 acres, and have nine unique name tracts ( 3,265 acres) in feed title, the largest being Black Rush Lake Wildlife Protection Area.
“It’s got to get to a point where you quit getting more land,” Lyon County Board Chair Rick Anderson told Mike Budd of the USFWS on Tuesday. “We’re still in ag country … and that’s got to be a priority for you.”
Also at issue for Anderson is the planned closure of county roads, especially those that prohibit access to the Lyon County Landfill. Anderson said he’s not a proponent of shutting down a road because of a planned burn meant to grow habitat. He’s not against supporting habitat in the county, but he has reservations nonetheless.
“I don’t like shutting down a road just because you want to burn; the DNR doesn’t shut down roads when they burn,” said Anderson. “You guys have to be a little more respectful of parking on the roads. Most of the time you’re out in the middle of the road where you can’t get around. You’ve got to be as good of a neighbor as we try to be with you guys.”
Budd said the USFWS doesn’t shut down roads for every burn.
“It’s not guaranteed — we can certainly do it without shutting down the road,” said Budd, who is the new USFWS representative for Lyon County.
However, as Phil Millette, fire management officer for the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and the Morris Wetland Management District, explained, the plan does call for the shutdown of portions of Lyon County Road 59.
“Yes, I would be looking at closing down portions of County Road 59, said Millette. “We know it is a heavily-used road by landfill trucks (but) they do have two other access points from the north and from the east.”
The closure would be broken down into two parts along the county road — the first for two to three hours, with a second smaller section being closed down after, Millette said. “When we do shut down roads … I would say 99% of the time, they’re gravel roads. We set up signs, all my people are trained. I would not put up signs on Highway 23, but I would park somebody at the intersection of Highway 23 and the west end of County Road 59. It’s not like we’re just shutting these (roads) down on the fly. If I can have a pilot car to escort people through, I will.”
Millette said he rarely shuts down major paved roads such as U.S. or State highways — it’s mostly only county roads and mostly gravel roads. He added that he works with the county sheriff before any burn begins.
Lyon County Sheriff Eric Wallen told the board that he doesn’t have a problem with road closures during at the burn.
Millette did acknowledge that this particular burn is a challenging one because of its sheer size and the fact that they have to work around residences in the area. He added that winds are a major factor in determining when to burn.
Anderson also asked what will happen if Minnesota goes carbon-free by 2040 — will organizations like the USFWS still be allowed to burn?
“How much carbon is coming off a burn section?” he asked.
Budd responded by saying that while a burn could be perceived as a big carbon creator, the USFWS only burns every three to four years.
“The following years after you burn, with roots growing and having new growth, you’re putting more root growth into the ground, so you’re taking more carbon out than what was produced during the burn,” Budd said. “It’s not an exact science for sure.”
“I don’t buy that,” Anderson said in response.
Anderson also raised the question of the affect on county tile, which is the county’s responsibility.

In other business Monday …

• The board authorized an expenditure of $26,401.84 for recycling cart replacements to MacQueen Equipment out of St. Paul to replace those that are broken. A total of 364 new carts will be purchased. A motion to approve was made by Commissioner Paul Graupmann and seconded by Commissioner Todd Draper. Lyon County Environmental Coordinator Roger Schroeder said that some usable parts from old carts are recycled.
• The board OK’d rebate amounts to Lyon and its partner counties for recycling and waste reduction programs. The amount is based on tons received from the county of origin, paid out at a rate of $5 per ton to the county of origin. Commissioner Gary Crowley made the motion to approve the rebate amounts, and Commissioner Tom Andries seconded.
• Commissioners approved a standard agreement with Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations out of Onalaska, WI, for electronic waste recycling at the Lyon County Landfull. Dynamic is a registered recycler of e-waste with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. E-waste includes items such as flat-screen TVs, printers and copiers, microwaves and computers/monitors. Draper made the motion to continue the agreement, with Crowley seconding.
• The board approved the appointment of Tracy Area High School ag teacher Elizabeth Johnson to the Extension Committee and Ann Paulson to the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board.

Contact Us

The Minneota Mascot
Address: 201 N. Jefferson
Minneota, MN 56264

Phone:(507) 872-6492