Two hearings were held in the Lake Region on Wednesday, Sept. 12 on a proposed 2,500-hog farm that may be built west of Devils Lake.

Two hearings were held in the Lake Region on Wednesday, Sept. 12 on a proposed 2,500-hog farm that may be built west of Devils Lake.

Daniel Julson and Taylor Aasmundstad will be co-owners of the proposed Animal Feeding Operation (also known as a CAFO, Confined Animal Feeding Operation) they want to build on Aasmundstad family property located approximately 10 miles west of the city of Devils Lake.

They submitted an application to the North Dakota State Health Department for this proposed AFO on June 30, 2017. It consisted of a four-page application and 378 pages of supporting documentation. It included structure design, nutrient management plan and an operation and maintenance plan.

Karl Rockeman from the NDDoH explained that they took their time going through the application and documentation before setting up the public hearings on the Spirit Lake Nation and in Devils Lake.

On Wednesday afternoon hundreds filled the two venues obtained for the hearings. Each person was granted approximately five minutes to speak, entering their testimony into the record. Rockeman explained each person’s testimony would be carefully considered before a final determination was made on granting, modifying or denying the Grand Prairie Agriculture, LLP, permit. He said the decision could take as long as 30 to 60 days after the comment period is closed on Sept. 28, 2018.

Among the first of many to speak at the Spirit Lake hearing was Tribal Vice Chairman Doug Yankton. He presented the panel with a four-page resolution passed by the Spirit Lake Tribe as of Aug. 30 listing nearly 40 reasons why “the Spirit Lake Tribal Council provides notice of its formal opposition to the Grand Prairie Agriculture’s proposed hog and pig farm operation near Devils Lake” and asked the NDDoH to deny the application. His sentiments were echoed by many from Spirit Lake, including Chairwoman Myra Pearson, elders, spiritual leaders and residents.

Over 20 people testified with three speaking up in favor of granting the permit and the remaining 17 who spoke being opposed to granting the permit. Following an opportunity to add to earlier statements the Spirit Lake hearing was closed. The atmosphere of the hearing was respectful and subdued with speakers sharing their concerns for the “sacred waters” of Devils Lake and the potential that exists for pollution should an accident or leak occur.

A second hearing on the permit for the proposed hog farm was held in Devils Lake later that same day. Again Rockeman explained the process for those who wished to enter their testimony into the record. “All comments will be considered,” he stated, regarding both spoken and written comments.

At this venue there were over 30 who stood to speak with seven speaking in favor of the hog farm and the remainder against it. Most of those in opposition said it was because of the location so near wetlands that drained into Devils Lake and its proximity to the St. Olaf Norway Lutheran Cemetery.

The atmosphere of this meeting was often heated as speakers on both sides of the issue expressed their anger and frustration. For the most part, those in attendance were local people, residents of Pelican Township, Ramsey County and the city of Devils Lake, however, a number of those who spoke were from other parts of the state and a very few - maybe one or two - were from out of state.

All oral comments from the two hearings were recorded and will be reviewed, according to Rockeman before making any decisions on the permit.

Written comments may still be submitted through Sept. 28. Written comments should be directed to the North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Water Quality, 918 E. Divide Avenue, 4th Floor, Bismarck, ND 58501-1947. The information also will be posted on the NDDoH website at www.deq.nd.gov. For more information, contact Marty Haroldson, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701-328-5210.