Posted 1/24/17 (Tue)
By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer
A state senate bill introduced this month would clear up North Dakota’s mineral ownership under Lake Sakakawea as litigation continues over what attorneys have alleged is a state land grab for minerals under the reservoir.
S.B. 2134, sponsored by Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson), would relegate the state’s mineral ownership to under the historic Missouri River channel as outlined in a federal survey from the 1950s related to Corps-acquired land for Lakes Sakakawea and Oahe, rather than a state commissioned survey from several years ago.
“The state holds no claim to any minerals above the ordinary high-water mark of the historical Missouri riverbed channel inundated by Pick-Sloan Missouri basin project dams, except for original grant lands acquired by the state under federal law and any minerals acquired by the state through purchase, foreclosure or other written conveyance,” the bill says.
Watford City attorney Dennis Johnson, who represents private owners in two cases of mineral rights under the lake, said he’s hopeful the bill will pass the state House and Senate and become law with Gov. Doug Burgum’s signature.
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