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North Dakota Ag News Headlines
Interior Official Commits Help for Jamestown Reservoir Legislation
North Dakota Ag Connection - 03/07/2018

During a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee this week, Senator John Hoeven secured a commitment from Alan Mikkelson, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for Water and Western Resource Issues, to work with him on advancing Hoeven's Jamestown Reservoir legislation. The senator's bill, which he introduced in November, would allow homeowners on the reservoir to purchase their lots from the federal government and transfer all remaining Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) lands around the reservoir to state and local public ownership. The hearing is a key step in advancing the legislation. The next steps following this are a vote in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and consideration by the full Senate.

"This legislation has broad support from state and local groups, including the Jamestown Reservoir Homeowners Association, the Stutsman County Park Board and the North Dakota Game and Fish," Hoeven said. "These homeowners have made substantial investments in their property and deserve the security of owning the land where they have long-resided. I appreciate Mr. Mikkelson's commitment to work with us on this legislation, and we look forward to advancing the bill through the full Energy and Natural Resources Committee and securing its passage in the Senate."

Hoeven's legislation grew out of meetings he and his staff held with the homeowners and local officials over the past year and is modeled after similar legislation the senator introduced for homeowners at Patterson Lake. Specifically, the bill:

- Establishes a process to make 71 residential lots on the reservoir available for sale for five years.

- Permanently transfers all other federal lands in the area, including two campgrounds, a park and unpurchased lots, to the Stutsman County Park Board and the North Dakota Game and Fish at no cost.

- Requires BOR to provide a legal description of all properties to be transferred.

- Provides that the value of the residential lots be based on a local third party appraiser, valuing the land as unimproved residential property, excluding all improvements.

- Maintains BOR responsibility over the reservoir and dam and directs all revenue from the sale of residential lots to be used for the costs of carrying out this legislation and deferred maintenance of the dam.

This legislation follows Hoeven's successful efforts to include a provision in the Water Resources and Development Act last year that limited fee increases for permittees on Patterson Lake, Lake Tschida and the Jamestown Reservoir. BOR had proposed increasing fees to more than twice the cost of current fees for permits on the three reservoirs. Hoeven's legislation prevented that increase and limited the total fee increase to no more than 33 percent over 5 years.

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