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Published May 11, 2011, 11:44 AM

Rally Planned to Show Support for Tolna Coulee Option

Those who live near Devils Lake want the state to clean out its natural outlet rather than opening up a new outlet, and they've planned a rally to promote their cause.

By: Associated Press, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — Those who live near Devils Lake want the state to clean out its natural outlet rather than opening up a new outlet, and they've planned a rally to promote their cause.

Organizers of Citizens United to Regain Equity, or CURE, said they believe digging out the Tolna Coulee would be cheaper and more effective than the state's plan for an east-end outlet.

The rally will be Monday, May 16 at the source of the Tolna Coulee, the southwestern edge of West Stump Lake, at 2 and 6 p.m. Buses will leave from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Devils Lake at 1 and 4 p.m.

"I don't think the state should be spending our money on another outlet that's not going to do any good," Nelson County Commissioner Dan Marquart told the Grand Forks Herald for a story published Wednesday.

Marquart said money being spent on an east-end outlet would be better spent providing protection or preventing damage downstream. The outlet might cost the state as much as $90 million.

Devils Lake has quadrupled in size since 1993 because of a series of wet years, engulfing more than 160,000 acres of farmland. The lake is 2 feet above last year's record elevation and less than 4 feet from the spill elevation.

Local officials worry if the lake gets high enough, it will quickly erode some natural drainage channels into the Sheyenne and threaten cities downstream.

The group is asking demonstrators to bring shovels to the coulee on Monday afternoon to highlight how easy it would be to lower the coulee and get more water off the lake.

Former Benson County Commissioner Barry Cox said the rally is purely symbolic and no one will be digging up ground.

"We're not out to cause trouble," Cox told The Associated Press.

Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke said he's anticipating a peaceful rally, but is bringing in extra law enforcement officers as a precaution.

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