It is with sadness that the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District announces that Cornie Goertzen recently passed away. Cornie was a prominent member of the SRRWD Board for 19 years. Cornie was an asset to the organization as well as mentoring the younger and less experienced members and employees. SRRWD send our condolences to the Goertzen family.
Cornie Goertzen was elected as Chair to SRRWD in 2003 and continued his tenure until he passed the torch to Jake Hiebert in May 2021. Cornie was appointed as a La Broquerie councilor to the Rat River Sub-District after the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie began the Seine-Rat River Conservation District, as it was called at the time. He was instrumental in providing leadership to the Seine River Integrated Management Plan, the Rat-Marsh Integrated Management Plan, the Southeast Regional Groundwater Study, and the Roseau Integrated Watershed Management Plan. Cornie’s desire for watershed protection exemplifies the local knowledge that we stand upon as a District. His local knowledge of the watershed area continually provided guidance around the sub-district and board room tables and has set an outstanding example of what a small group of locally dedicated people can do for watershed health. In 2011 Cornie was a strong advocate and devoted supporter of water retention. Our largest water retention project to date is the De Salaberry Crown Lands Water Retention project that stores 376 acre feet of water to reduce downstream flooding to St. Pierre, Manitoba and came into fruition under Cornie’s direction of the Rat River Sub-District.
Cornie was inspirational in making strong and lasting connections both with local landowners and government representatives. He understood the value of meeting face to face and always made an effort to participate in every watershed meeting. He was able to engage every Provincial Minister to encourage them to go further in supporting the movement towards watershed health. He participated at the MCDA and MAW board table for just as long as he was Chair of our District. Cornie continually desired to operate as a unified voice among the watersheds. His leadership recognized the great challenge of watershed health, the need for local knowledge to inform decisions, create positive changes on the working landscape and develop management plans to secure the future of our land and water resources to really bring about lasting change. Cornie trusted strongly in his fellow board members and encouraged everyone to share their opinions around the table, no matter what their background was. As a farmer, Cornie Goertzen is the perfect example of why the Watershed Districts were created, to preserve local knowledge and use it to guide our path forward: the best place for a drop of water is where it falls.
In 2021 Cornie was the recipient of the Watershed Builder Award, an award to acknowledge the sound environmental stewardship within the watershed districts.