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History of Comfort Lake - Forest Lake Watershed District

Seventy-four residents within the proposed boundary for the Comfort Lake - Forest Lake Watershed (CLFLWD), along with the City of Forest Lake, Wyoming Township, Chisago County and Washington County, petitioned the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to establish the CLFLWD on November 18, 1998. A public hearing concerning the establishment of the CLFLWD was subsequently held on June 21, 1999 at the Forest Lake City Hall Council Chambers. The CLFLWD was formed by order of the BWSR on September 23, 1999.


Sunrise on Comfort Lake

 

Although the original petition envisioned a CLFLWD encompassing an area very similar to the present boundary, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recommended a larger boundary including the entire Sunrise River to the north. The area described by the petition encompassed approximately 49 square miles in the Cities of Forest Lake and Wyoming, and the Towns of Chisago Lakes, Wyoming, Forest Lake and New Scandia. The petition included the area encompassed by the predecessor organization, the Forest Lake Watershed Management Organization (FLWMO), plus the drainage area of Big Comfort Lake in Chisago County; i.e., Joint Ditch No. 1 (JD 1). One of the exhibits to the establishment order consisted of a map showing the proposed boundary. Although not listed by the petition, this map showed a small portion of Columbus Township in Anoka County as included in the CLFLWD. After recognizing this discrepancy and realizing the Higgins Lake area consisted of a closed basin, the BWSR removed this portion of Anoka County from the CLFLWD by order dated May 24, 2000.

Some type of water management organization operated within much of the present CLFLWD since the early 1980s. The City of Forest Lake, Town of Forest Lake and Town of New Scandia developed a Joint Powers Agreement to establish the FLWMO, in accordance with Minnesota Statute sections 473.875 to 473.883, on December 19, 1983. The FLWMO expanded in 1987 to include the drainage areas for Bone and Twin Lakes. The FLWMO developed a plan, conducted several lake management studies and implemented permit and fertilizer management programs for lake protection.

As water management issues surrounding JD 1 became increasingly complex in the late 1990s and the ditch was ultimately abandoned, the FLWMO was expanded to create the NEWMO Watershed Management Organization. A primary purpose of expansion was to address the water management issues associated with the abandoned JD 1. Residents filed a petition for formation of the CLFLWD following the disbanding of the NEWMO Watershed Management Organization, because of the lack of an agreeable financing mechanism.