Humboldt supervisors restrict ATV access to wetland

DAKOTA CITY — The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors agreed to help the Iowa Department of Natural Resources restrict vehicle access to a state-owned wetland east of Livermore, it was announced Monday.

Last week, DNR representatives brought concerns to the supervisors about ATV damage to the East Fork of the Des Moines River Access wetland area along the west bank of river just east of Livermore. The county owns a small sliver of land bordering the state property to the north where people can drive down to the river and fish. It has been a popular area, Supervisor Erik Underberg said last week. However, it has been one of the access points for people to enter the wetland on ATVs.

Last week DNR Conservation Officer Bill Spece showed the board photos of the damage being done by the vehicles. He said anyone caught riding in the area would be prosecuted and charged with the damage done. The DNR had requested a stone barricade be placed at the entrance to the county property to keep vehicles from entering. People would then have to walk a short distance to the river.

However, last week some of the supervisors were reluctant to penalize people who were doing nothing wrong. The county didn’t want boulders placed in their right of way, Board Chairman Rick Pedersen said at the time.

The board agreed to meet with DNR officials at the site to assess the problem.

Monday Supervisor Bruce Reimers said he, Underberg, and Sheriff Dean Kruger met with Spece, and Rod Patterson, a DNR technician, Thursday at the site to see the problem for themselves.

“To put it mildly, the pictures that he showed us couldn’t do justice for what was inside there,” Reimers said. ”Some of the ruts were unbelievably deep.”

The group decided it would be a good idea to block off vehicle access to the county area, and better fence off the wetland to keep vehicles out. The sheriff’s deputies will be notified that no one is to be stopped from going in and fishing.

“They are welcome to go in and fish,” Reimers said. ”They can walk up there to fish along the river. That’s not the people we are after. We are after people in there tearing it up with four-wheelers.”

Underberg said he talked with a landowner whose land adjoins the property and they were in favor of closing it off. Public hunting would still be allowed as well, he said.

Conservation Director Todd Lee will work with DNR officials in closing off the area.

In other business, the board discussed landowners questions about the details of drainage assessments.

“It has not been our practice in the past, but if somebody asks for it we will provide it,” Auditor Peggy Rice said. ”But we don’t normally send it out with assessments. In 30 some years we have done it that way. If you come in and ask we will definitely get it for you. It is public record.”

Pedersen said he didn’t think it was unreasonable for people to ask for an explanation as to what they are being assessed for.

“It should be a standard practice,” he said.

“To send everyone an itemized bill on a drainage district levy we would need to hire four times the people we have in the office right now,” Underberg said.

He said he didn’t want to add to the work load of Drainage Clerk Trish Egli.

“I’m very sympathetic on anyone wanting clarity on any bill,” Underberg said.

However, he has gone through some landowners requests with Egli.

“It can be horrendously complicated,” he said.