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Published January 13, 2012, 06:44 PM

Jamestown dealing with nearly 1,000 dead trees in James River

Jamestown, ND (WDAY TV) - Dead trees and debris along the James River are a bigger threat than ever after a summer that saw record flows come out of the Jamestown Reservoir. But the task of clearing those trees is easier said than done.

Dead trees and debris along the James River are a bigger threat than ever after a summer that saw record flows come out of the Jamestown Reservoir. But the task of clearing those trees is easier said than done.

30,000 sandbags lined the James River during a late summer flood. With record flows and high water, nearly 1,000 dead trees sit beside the icy river.

Reed Schwartzkopf – Jamestown City Engineer: “The guys would be cutting off near the base, leaving the root balls in tact to provide stability in the system.”

That stability is needed to prevent possible catastrophic damages.

Reed Schwartzkopf: “In an emergency scenario we could easily have a tree or two cut loose, hit a bridge, have a foot or more backwater come up and blow the dikes over.”

The task of clearing 1,000 trees from the James River could take up to 4 years, but first and foremost the city is trying to figure out how to pay for it.

Mayor Katie Anderson - Jamestown: “One of the ways we could pay for this is a citywide special assessment district, spreading out that burden as thin as possible.”

The city is also trying vigorously to get money from the state water commission, the state forestry, and is applying for grants. But ultimately some money will most likely be paid by property owners.

Mayor Anderson: “It makes it something reasonable, like one dollar per lot in the city of Jamestown every year for 10 years can come up with nearly half-a-million-dollars. So there's a lot of ways to fund that as to not impact the individual property owners or burden them too much in one particular year.

There are no definitive cost estimates yet, but Schwartzkopf says it could easily be more than $100,000.

The Mayor says it will be at least 2 to 3 months before the city council listens to any financing proposals.

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