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Team Approach Produces Satisfactory Results In Barnes County

Teamwork has helped a conservation project go smoothly in Barnes County.

Loretta Sorensen writes from Yankton, S.D

Bruce Anderson, of Valley City, was interested in mitigating several small wetlands on his farm. He turned to USDA-NRCS Wetland Mitigation Specialist, Stephen Stensgard and several private consultants for help.

Stensgard says the team approach was a good one.

“We currently have agreements with four engineering firms to aid in completing the growing number of mitigation requests in North Dakota,” Stensgard says.

The private consultants helped design the new wetlands and NRCS reviewed and approved the plan and inspected the work, making sure the mitigated wetlands were the same and provided the same values as the original wetlands.

A private contractor completed excavation work for each project. Anderson paid for all the costs to mitigate the wetlands, which totaled about five acres.


It was expensive but worth it, Anderson says.

Yields have increased 12-15% on fields where he mitigated wetlands and installed tile drainage. There have also been reductions in costs associated with saline soils and an improvement in fieldwork efficiency.

“There’s rarely any land here for sale or even for rent,” Anderson says. “My son and I determined that, in the long run, it makes economic sense for us to improve the acres we already have rather than search for more land to purchase or rent.”

Doing your homework before starting a mitigation or tiling project is important, according to Stensgard says. Anderson agrees.

“Once I learned the laws and had a better understanding of the mitigation process, my projects went more smoothly,” he says.

Anderson has another 20 acres he’d like to tile someday. It may involve mitigating some more wetlands. He plans to work closely with NRCS specialists and private consultants again to develop the mitigation proposals.