Grain Belt port district submits application

A group of 11 Mississippi River counties and localities in Wisconsin and Minnesota have submitted a request to Commander Karl Jansen of the St. Paul Engineer District to be consolidated into a single statistical port district for purposes of reporting of cargo and tonnages, to be called the Northern Grain Belt Statistical Port District. The Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission co-sponsored the application, serving as the non-federal sponsor.

All the counties have passed resolutions supporting the boundaries of the new district if it is approved. The application has also received strong support from both states. Such a designation doesn’t change anything physically, but gives a better, more complete economic picture of a region that includes river terminals.

The letter points out that the bi-state section of the Upper Mississippi River has been a functioning regional port system for more than 100 years without federal recognition, and that Wisconsin is the only state on the Mississippi River without a federally recognized port. “The Northern Grain Belt Port Statistical Area initiative corrects that.”

The requested Northern Grain Belt Port Statistical Area includes the seven riverfront counties of the MRRPC as well as four riverfront counties in Minnesota. The concept is similar to the recently created statistical port districts of the Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and the Illinois Waterways Ports and Terminals.

The MRRPC, created in 1964, is the regional planning organization serving western Wisconsin, providing planning and technical assistant to local governments. The seven Mississippi River waterfront counties it serves include Buffalo, Crawford, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, Trempealeau and Vernon counties.

The letter was signed by Dave Bonifas, director of the MRRPC.

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].