Over the winter, The Friends of the Souris River (@sourisfriends) conducted survey of Minot residents’ perceptions of the river. As was expected, people in Minot view the river in a less-than-favorable light. The full news release from the Friends of the Souris written by Vista Volunteer Andrianna Betts follows below.
— Official News Release, Friends of the Souris River —
In December of last year the Friends of the Souris River (FSR) mailed surveys to 800 Minot residents who live along the river. The randomly selected households were asked to answer four questions that will help guide future decisions concerning river restoration.
In total 77 residents returned completed surveys. Among the respondents only 33% viewed the Souris positively. The majority of respondents indicated an absence of activities along the water, and would enjoy having greater access to water activities such as canoeing or kayaking. In terms of efforts to better the river, most respondents had heard of flood protection and river clean-ups.
In the comments section some respondents described feelings of uneasiness about the river. “I have a lot of mixed things about the river, being flooded and still living along the river.” Another respondent expressed similar apprehension of the Souris. “The river is a sleeping giant, and dangerous.” The mostly negative perception of the Souris River reflects continuing concerns regarding flood control.
“I think the results point to what we already knew,” said Shannon Straight, an FSR organizer. “People in Minot are still a bit traumatized by the flood and don’t think of the river in the best light. We’re hopeful we can start to change that,” added Straight.
To shift residents’ perception of the Souris in a positive direction, there needs to be greater investment in improving the river’s aesthetic appeal and access to recreational activities along the river. While flood protection remains a high priority for the city, pride and ownership in our river should not be lost.
FSR is offering chances again this year for community members to participate in bettering our river. Service opportunities and fun activities will be held in the coming months.
The mission of the Friends of the Souris River is to renew and restore Minot’s river culture. Last year the group organized four river clean-ups where over 200 volunteers collected more than 14 tons of garbage. Visit friendsofthesouris.com to join the effort.
Questions & Responses
Question #1: Do you enjoy having access to the following activities along the river?
Over two-thirds (69.7%) of the respondents rated access to wildlife observation from neutral to very poor.
74.3% of respondents rated access to calming aesthetics from neutral to very poor.
In terms of access to hiking, 77.8% of respondents gave a rating of neutral to very poor.
70% of respondents rated access to fishing from neutral to very poor.
Over half (51.4%) of respondents rated access to water activities as very poor.
Question #2: Have you heard about efforts to better the Souris River?
The majority of respondents had heard about efforts to better the river, specifically flood protection and river clean-ups.
Question #3: Would you be interested in seeing or enjoying the following activities along the river?
The majority of respondents would be interested in canoeing or kayaking on the Souris River. The second most desired activity was skating or swimming, followed by tubing and swimming.
Question #4: Describe your perception of the Souris River.
Somewhat positive 22.4%
Somewhat negative 31.6%