April 20, 2016

Access guarantees sought following land transfer

By STU MERRY

The horse left the barn.

That was the take by the Friends of Lake Sakakawea board Friday when they met with the representatives of state and federal agencies, the Tribe and congressional delegation.

The board reviewed a Memorandum of Agreement that transfers oversight of 30,480 Lake Sakakawea shoreline acres from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The agreement would transfer jurisdiction of some Garrison Reservoir project lands located on the Fort Berthold Reservation, to the Department of the Interior. The land would be kept in trust for the Three Affiliated Tribes.

One of the biggest fears of Friends of Lake Sakakawea board members is that the change in oversight would impact access.

The announcement caught a lot of people off guard, including members of the Friends of Lake Sakakawea.

"This caught a lot of people by surprise," said Terry Fleck, Friends of Lake Sakakawea chairman, adding he thought the transfer was dropped in 2008.

The land transfer was discussed many times over the past few years but funding wasn’t allocated until recently, which put the transfer in motion. The Riverdale office of the Corps received $250,000 thus far in its 2016 budget.


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