Residents leery of Souris River

Graphics submitted by Friends of the Souris River

Minot residents living along the Souris River might view the river more positively if there were opportunities for recreation, according to survey results released Thursday.

In December of last year, Friends of the Souris River mailed surveys to 800 Minot residents who live along the river. The randomly selected households were asked to answer four questions to help guide future decisions concerning river restoration.

Of the 77 residents who returned completed surveys, only 33 percent viewed the Souris River positively. The majority of respondents identified an absence of activities along the water and would enjoy having greater access to water activities such as canoeing or kayaking. In terms of efforts to better the river, most respondents had heard of flood protection and river clean-ups.

Comments from respondents indicated a sense of uneasiness about the river.

“I have a lot of mixed things about the river, being flooded and still living along the river,” one respondent wrote.

Graphics submitted by Friends of the Souris River

“The river is a sleeping giant, and dangerous,” said another aprehensive respondent.

The mostly negative perception of the Souris River reflects continuing concerns regarding flood control.

“I think the results point to what we already knew,” said Shannon Straight, a Friends of the Souris River organizer. “People in Minot are still a bit traumatized by the flood and don’t think of the river in the best light. We’re hopeful we can start to change that.”

To shift residents’ perception of the Souris in a positive direction, Friends of the Souris River would like to see greater investment in improving the river’s aesthetic appeal and access to recreational activities along the river. While flood protection remains a high priority for the city, pride and ownership in our river should not be lost, according to the group.

Friends of the Souris River plans to offer service opportunities and fun activities in coming months to encourage participate in bettering the river. The mission of the group is to renew and restore Minot’s river culture. Last year the group organized four river clean-ups, involving more than 200 volunteers and collecting more than 14 tons of garbage.

People can visit friendsofthesouris.com to learn more or join the effort.