February 13, 2014

Land transfer hearing schedule for March 4


BHG News Service

The first in a series of hearings on a proposed land transfer will be March 4 in New Town and Garrison and March 7 in Beulah.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m. at the the New Town City Hall and 3 p.m. at the Garrison City Auditorium. The hearing will be 10 a.m. March 7 at the Beulah Civic Center.

The transfer would affect 24,000 acres around Lake Sakakawea on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, as well as other acres around Lake Sakakawea that may be considered "excess."

The hearing is part of a study by Eide Bailly, the firm hired by the state Legislature when a bill was proposed in the 2013 Legislative Session to return "excess" lands because of noxious weeds, public access to the lands, wildlife habitat, endangered species and the proposed tribal land transfer.

Eide Bailly said in a letter to stakeholders that "excess" lands are defined as land that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took from individuals bordering Lake Sakakawea above 1854 feet mean sea level and around Lake Oahe above 1620 feet mean sea level.

Stakeholders were asked to respond to questions about their concerns by mail and/or by attending a hearing. Additional hearings are in Linton, Fort Yates and Bismarck. The Bismarck hearing will be 2 p.m. June 11 at the State Capitol.

The proposed tribal lands transfer was an area of contention during the previous Gov. John Hoeven administration in 2004 and came to the forefront again in 2012 when Tribal Chairman Tex Hall pressed for the transfer.


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