The Lake Region and Devils Lake are near and dear to Joe Belford's heart given his longtime association with the lake and his family's history in the area, which made the award he recently received so meaningful.
When Belford retired from his 24 years of service as a Ramsey County commissioner, he received a Commander's Award for Public Service from the Department of the Army, which commended his many years of community service, including his service on the State Water Commission as the downstream acceptance coordinator. The award commends Belford for "his dedicated leadership in pursuing solutions to longterm water resource challenges in Devils Lake and the surrounding area" and for being "a strong advocate for the Devils Lake Region with the best interest for all its people. He has been instrumental in raising local concerns to the state, federal and international levels."
In reflecting on his involvement in the area's water issues he says he thinks the biggest accomplishment has been "putting the confidence in the downstream people (including those in Manitoba and Minnesota) that we want to work with them in moving water in an orderly fashion." He said future challenges will include determining what is the best lake level for all concerned - including the all important fishing and tourism interests - to help maintain a viable community and retuning agricultural land to farmers.