KELLOGG — “If this land is destroyed, it’s forever.”
Willard Drysdale does not want to see his farmland destroyed. But if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers follows through with its plan, that, Drysdale said, is exactly what will happen.
The Corps has developed a new 40-year dredge material management plan for Lower Pool 4, which runs from Lock and Dam No. 4 north past Wabasha to where the Chippewa River empties into the Mississippi River from Wisconsin.
A major portion of that plan – more than 60 percent of the land to be acquired — includes Drysdale’s 415-acre family farm. The Corps wants 298 of those acres, something Drysdale calls prime, flat row-cropping land, to become the site where material dredged from lower Pool No. 4 is stored for the next 40 years.
The Corps also is looking to acquire another parcel north of Kellogg, several parcels in Wabasha where the dredge material would be loaded for transport and two large parcels in Wisconsin. All that to keep clear the 9-foot navigation channel that runs from Lock and Dam No. 4 to the Chippewa River inlet on the Wisconsin side.
“Most of the dredge material in the (St. Paul) district comes from the lower area in Pool No. 4,” said Elliott Stefanik, a biologist and chief of the environmental planning section for the district. Most of that silt can be found between lock and dam No. 4 and the Chippewa River, the source of the vast majority of that silt.
The Corps cuts about 270,000 cubic yards of dredge material from that stretch annually. During the 40-year life of the management plan, that would be 10.7 million cubic yards.
Permanent dredged material placement sites previously used in Lower Pool 4 have reached capacity, the Corps stated in its plan outline. Furthermore, existing island transfer sites have temporary capacity for less than 10 years of dredging, and material placed…