The time to make some changes is long overdue. Minot's "dead river" loops have existed for more than 30 years. They are unpleasant, disgusting eyesores that infest the heart of this community and yet we live with them every day.
The dead loops were an unfortunate byproduct of necessary channelization of the Souris River following the 1969 flood. Yes, the improvements made to the meandering Souris meant better flow of water through the city. That was good. The dead loops where the river previously flowed are not.
Minot's pride is at least seven major loop cutoffs that, sometimes by early summer, become at least partially coated in moss and algae. The loops are little more than unsightly pits where garbage collects, stolen bicycles disappear and mosquitoes gather. It is time to begin to make some changes.
A family of wood ducks leaves trails through “scum” in a dead Souris River loop near the west entrance to Roosevelt Park in this file photo taken in warmer seasonal conditions.
A Minot man recently came up with a plan to recover a portion of a dead loop on the west border of Roosevelt Park. His vision is that aging trees lining the banks of the dead loop, some which occasionally fall into the usually putrid and stagnant water, be removed and that a large storm drain placed in the loop be covered with fill. Landscaping would result in a park-like setting that would beautify the community and be enjoyed by citizens. The idea has merit and could be applied elsewhere in the city.
The dead, or cut-off, river loops do not receive regular flows from the Souris River. Instead they are connected to the river by large storm drains. If the amount of water in a dead river loop rises too high, such as during a sudden and significant rainstorm, the excess water enters the river via the large drains. When the river level rises too high, the excess flows into the dead loops. Large pumps are required to return the water back into the river.
While it may not be practical to reclaim all of Minot's dead river loops, it certainly is plausible to reclaim at least portions of some of them. To create additional acreage adjacent to Roosevelt Park seems to be an excellent place to start.
The dead loop that surrounds Eastwood Park, particularly near the west entrance to Roosevelt Park, is an unsightly embarrassment for the community. Other dead loops, or at least portions of them, are no better.
The dead loop surrounding Nubbin Park is just plain awful. It collects trash, windblown or otherwise, and is generally coated in algae. So, too, is the loop that forms the border around Oak Park - a place of pride for the community with the woeful exception of the disgusting dead river loop.
It is difficult for me to believe that no one cares about the appearance of major sections of the city. Could it be that we've lived with the dead loops' worthless appearance for so long that we have come to accept them and endorse them? Shall we just look the other way for another 30, 40 or 50 years? I hope not.
Solutions won't be easy or free, but I say give all the credit in the world to anyone who acts on a vision which can remedy our dead river loop situation for the betterment of our community. It is time for our citizens and city leaders to become involved. Thirty years of crud is long enough.