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County Board: Beltrami SWCD to ask for $25,000 to consolidate

The Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District is asking for $25,000 in emergency funds to provide services to northwest Beltrami County.

"The Marshall-Beltrami SWCD will be closing its door at the end of March, leaving 479 Beltrami County landowners without access to technical assistance through a local SWCD, and without elected representation to participate in working for a better future," Jay Backstrom, chairman of the Beltrami SWCD, says in a memo to Beltrami County commissioners.

County commissioners will hear the Beltrami SWCD's request for $25,000 to transition the former Marshall-Beltrami SWCD work into its work during the board's regular meeting 5 p.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

The Beltrami SWCD is itself transitioning into the county's Environmental Services Department, with the proposal calling for the elected SWCD board to become an advisory panel to the Beltrami County Board.

Backstrom said the agency is asking for an emergency grant request for funds from the county's Red Lake Game Fund. The monies "will ensure the Beltrami SWCD can remain a viable partner through these two very critical transitions which are envisioned to be completed before July 1," Backstrom said.

Funded would be two projects that Backstrom called critical. The first is the consolidation of Marshall-Beltrami SWCD duties to the Beltrami counterpart. The second is to allow the Beltrami SWCD "to assess the capacity and ability to be a functional partner to effectively consolidate the Marshall-Beltrami SWCD and continue providing conservation services to the area's affected Consolidated Conservation area landowners."

The grant request states that the effort "will be most successful if the ongoing effort to partner the Beltrami SWCD and the Beltrami County Environmental Services Department is successful."