Property Rights Acquisition and Mitigation Plans/Programs
The Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) developed the Property Right Acquisition and Mitigation Plan (PRAM) to describe the property rights acquisition and mitigation plans and policies to be followed for the FM Area Diversion (Project). The PRAM was drafted in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and in consultation with the North Dakota Department of Water Resources (NDDWR) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), along with input from the MFDA Land Management Committee, the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (CCJWRD), and Moorhead Clay County Joint Powers Authority (MCCJPA). It was prepared in accordance with the Final Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement, Supplemental Environmental Assessments, permits issued by the NDDWR and the MDNR. The purpose of the PRAM is to outline the MFDA’s commitment to applicable state and federal laws, USACE requirements, provisions of the Settlement Agreement, and other mitigation programs developed to address impacts from the Project with regard to property acquisition and mitigation measures for the Project.
- PRAM version 4 serves as the basis of the Dam Safety and Public Waters Work Permit 2018-0819 issued by MDNR on March 19, 2021.
- PRAM version 5 was approved by the NDDWR on June 1, 2020.
The MFDA intends to consolidate and update Version 4 and 5 of the PRAM into a final, comprehensive PRAM that will serve as the final guiding document for property acquisition and mitigation.
Crop Insurance Programs
The Metro Flood Diversion Authority (MFDA) is committed to easing potential burdens on landowners and agricultural producers in the Upstream Mitigation Area (UMA). While all existing farmland in the UMA will remain arable and eligible for federal crop insurance upon completion of the FM Area Diversion (Project), the MFDA has committed to providing two supplemental crop insurance programs to further protect agricultural producers.
- PREVENT-PLANT CROP INSURANCE PROGRAM
This supplemental policy will apply if, due to operation of the Project, producers are unable to plant crops on property within the UMA by the established late-planting dates set by federal crop insurance. The program will reimburse at the same coverage level that producers purchased through federal crop insurance and will be provided at no cost to producers. The program will also ensure producers’ Actual Production History (APH) yield is not adversely affected by a reduced yield caused by Project operation.
- GROWING SEASON SUPPLEMENTAL CROP LOSS PROGRAM
In the unlikely event of a summer flood requiring Project operations, this program will cover 100 percent of resulting crop loss during the growing season for producers in the UMA, no matter the year or crop type. For currently established organic farmland, the program also will compensate for all crop loss if Project operation causes contamination that prevents farmland from qualifying for certified organic designations.
The MFDA retained Watts & Associates (Watts), an independent crop insurance development firm, to develop the supplemental insurance policies to compensate affected producers for losses associated with Project operation. Watts assessed agricultural producers’ risks due to Project operation and will fully develop these programs to complement federal crop insurance.
Post Operation Clean Up Programs
There are a variety of “public lands” in the UMA such as township and county roads, drainage ditches, cemeteries, and parks. In recognition that operation of the Project may cause some damage to these public lands as well as the accumulation of debris (logs, straw, trash, etc.), the MFDA will implement a Post-Operation Public Lands Repair and Clean-up Plan. The plan for public lands will allow government entities (townships, water boards, etc.) to contract for the repair and clean-up work on the public lands, and then submit for reimbursement to the MFDA and to contract for the work as they prefer. The MFDA has outlined certain guidelines in the Post-Operation Public Lands Repair and Clean-up Plan that will be adhered to in the PRAM.
Rural Impact Mitigation Program (Farmstead re-establishment program)
The Project will impact approximately two dozen existing farmsteads and rural businesses. Several of these farmsteads and rural businesses will be displaced due to the Project, and suitable replacement sites for the displaced farmsteads and rural businesses may not be readily available. In recognition of the regional importance of these farmsteads and rural businesses to the region, the MFDA has established the Rural Impact Mitigation Program (RIMP) to provide financial assistance to help with relocation and re-establishment of the displaced farmsteads and rural businesses.
The RIMP establishes the protocols and financial allowances to help relocate and reestablish farmsteads, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that are displaced because of the Project when URA payments are not sufficient to do so. One of the purposes of the RIMP is to assist in reestablishing displaced farmsteads and businesses thereby helping maintain the economic vitality of the local farm and rural business community.
Property required for the Project will be acquired in compliance with federal and state statutes, regulations, and constitutional requirements. In addition, the MFDA is committed to acquiring property in accordance with the permits issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the North Dakota Department of Water Resources. The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended (PL-91-646) will serve as the basis for establishing the minimum standards for property acquisitions and relocation of displaced persons.
The MFDA has adopted a “Resolution Establishing the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board.” The Alternative Dispute Resolution Board was created as an independent board to hear claims by persons against the MFDA alleging their real property was physically damaged by operation of the Project. It should be noted that the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board is modeled after a similar process created by the North Dakota Department of Water Resources for the Devils Lake outlet project. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Board is not intended to be the sole administrative remedy for disputes, and persons claiming to be affected by the operation of the Project may utilize other administrative remedies if available. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Board is not intended to address claims relating to alleged negligence of the MFDA, its contractors, agents, officers, employees, or designees.
Cemetery Protection Plan
Following the commitments in the Settlement Agreement, the MFDA has developed a Cemetery Protection Plan to provide a framework that identifies potential impacts and mitigation measures for cemeteries within the UMA and with viewshed impacts as a result of the Project. The MFDA acknowledges there is no one-size-fits all approach to cemetery mitigation as each site is unique. In addition, the information and feasible options for each site may also vary, and the MFDA will respect each when formulating what works best for each cemetery. For more information, please view the full Cemetery Protection Plan.