ND official testifies to support minerals exchange legislation

WASHINGTON – A North Dakota official testified this week before a Senate committee to support legislation that will enable the state to swap lands and minerals with the federal government.

Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong introduced the North Dakota Trust Lands Completion Act. The bill would authorize the State of North Dakota to relinquish state-owned lands and minerals contained within the tribal reservations to the U.S. Department of the Interior to be held in trust for the tribes and, in exchange, receive federal land and minerals of equal value within North Dakota.

North Dakota Commissioner of University and School Lands Joseph Heringer spoke at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing in favor of the act.

“The North Dakota Trust Lands Completion Act would enable North Dakota and the Department of the Interior to exchange lands for two mutually-beneficial purposes,” Heringer said. “First, it provides North Dakota with more productive and easily accessible land for increased revenue to support education, and second, helping North Dakota tribal nations to further consolidate lands within their reservations, so they can manage and develop the land as they see fit.”

North Dakota holds more than 130,000 acres of minerals and more than 31,000 surface acres within tribal reservations, which are largely unavailable for development.

Valuations conducted under the legislation would be determined by Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice. Valid existing rights will be respected in these transactions and there will be no impact on any Indian treaty rights.


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