Backus: Vandalism on rise in city

Targets include runway, goose deterrents and other city property

Mike Paulus of Cass County Economic Development Corporation gave an update to the Backus City Council on the Corporation's recent actions. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Backus has been experiencing an uptick in vandalism on various city properties recently, spanning from the pump house for city water to the runway at the airport to swan decoys at Rocky Dock.

City council members discussed options for responding to the issue at their Monday, June 7, regular council meeting.

Vandalism included a broken grill at Rocky Dock, theft of a "No Parking" sign, a hole in the fence there and destruction of swan decoys intended to keep geese from overrunning and defecating all over the beach and park area. There was also graffiti on the city's water treatment pump house, damage to a picnic table at Trailside Park, writing in marker on the slides at the playground near Head Start as well as vandalism of the municipal airport runway.

The council reacted primarily to the vandalism at the airport and the destruction of the swan decoys at Rocky Dock.

Clerk Ann Swanson asked council members to work together to find recommendations for a surveillance system at the airport. Swanson said she is currently busy with other duties both related and unrelated to the city. Council members agreed to take on the project.


The council discussed options for replacing the swan decoys at the park and deterring further destruction. The original decoys cost $60, but one resident present said they seemed to have been working during the nine days they were at the park. The decoys were destroyed fairly quickly, and while it is being treated as a vandalism issue, there was some discussion that a dog may have done some of the damage, though dogs are not permitted in the park.

Council member Karl Flier recommended contacting the Department of Natural Resources to determine options for keeping geese out of the park. Their droppings are so thick that nobody wants to use the park. Other recommendations included installation of some sort of spinners, application of repellant and other suggestions.

One resident questioned whether deterring the geese would be a good use of city resources. The council chose for now to buy decoys and install a sign explaining their purpose while consulting with the DNR on other options.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Scheduled the July meeting for Tuesday, July 6.
  • Learned that the Backus Cornfest event is back on. The council agreed to allow street closures for the annual parade and approved fireworks on the condition that the fire danger is lower. Council member Rae Borst sought permission to hold a kids fishing tournament at Rocky Dock. She was told to contact the DNR to determine if any permits are needed.
  • Asked for a quote for crack sealing.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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