U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discusses dredging plans in Wabasha

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WABASHA, Minn. (WEAU)-- Landowners near the Mississippi River are expressing relief after a visit from the US Army Corps of Engineers. This spring, the Corps sent letters to land owners in western Wisconsin and Minnesota informing them their properties were identified as potential sites to place sand dredged from the river.

The Corps says the sand needs to be dredged in order to maintain a 9 foot navigation channel where the Mississippi meets the Chippewa River.

Jane Glander's home sits on the banks of the Mississippi River

“I view the river. I see the back waters and I enjoy all the wildlife and the nature,” she explained.

But Glander and her neighbors are making it very clear that they don't want their views of the Mississippi impacted by dredging plans proposed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“To dredge that and fill it with sand and bring trucks in my peaceful neighborhood would be the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen,” she explained.

Tuesday, the Commanding General for the Mississippi Valley Region of the Army Corps of Engineers was in Wabasha, Minnesota to calm fears that the Army Corps of Engineers will use eminent domain to obtain land to place 10.2 million cubic feet of sand that needs to be dredged from the Mississippi river.

That was a possibility for neighbors like Glander, but Tuesday Major General Richard Kaiser said use of eminent domain is a last resort.

“While that is an option, that is the last option. I’ll tell you this. If that term ever comes up it’s because federal interests clearly need to take precedence and that won't be the circumstance here. We will find a good solution together,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser says the corps of engineers is looking into other options for where the dredged sand would go. Possibilities include using dredged sand to rebuild islands in the river that have eroded over time and using the dredged sand to fill in holes on industrial land. While its back to the drawing board, Kaiser continues to stress the importance of keeping the waterways open for crucial commerce.

“Most people don't recognize over $4 trillion of the nation’s economy moves down the waterways and that includes this stretch here,” Kaiser emphasized.

Glander added that she is hopeful that the US Army Corps will be true to their word and look into other options.

“It’s reassuring, it gives me hope which I didn’t have a few months ago. I want to be hopeful that they are being honest and forthright with their next plan of events,” Glander said.

Major General Kaiser says his team will work through the winter to find a solution for the dredging project. He says once a new plan is formulated, it will be shared with the public and will be open to public comment before any plans move forward.

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