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Page 8 ■ Thursday, February 9, 2012


BAKKEN NEWS


Land board delays some leases Cont. from page 1


“I would suggest we consider the en-


tire list submitted by the Game and Fish director,” Gaebe said. He said the acreage wouldn’t be per- manently taken off the list considered for lease.


Gaebe recommended that the board


“This one’s on the house.”


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allow him to consult with the North Da- kota Game and Fish director and North Dakota Mineral Resources director to develop written policies that would cre- ate a process to determine sensitive ar- eas and animal habitats. In addition, he would be instructed to enhance existing procedures to limit surface impacts as well as initiate discussions with federal land and mineral management agencies to consider options for swapping lands and minerals. The State Historical Society and Geo-


logical Survey already review nominated tracts before auction, Gaebe said, and developing a similar procedure for the Game and Fish Department would be a good idea.


Oil and Gas Division Director Lynn


Helms said the Oil and Gas Division has a process in place to review acreage in areas in the Berthold area considered sensitive. Helms said the department has acreage considered sensitive by tribal leaders marked on a map. Producers are instructed to contact tribal leaders and work out an agreement before any of the marked acreage is released for lease. “I think this is a process that can work


very well,” Helms said. Dalrymple said the goal is to have


a process in place in time for the next lease sale in May. The process, he said, should allow for the agencies to review the acreage but also require there to be a legitimate reason for the acreage to be withdrawn. Dalrymple said an example would be an area where protecting wild- life is important such as sensitive habitats for species such as sage grouse, which are in danger of disappearing. Most of the acreage discussed is locat-


ed in Billings and Golden Valley coun- ties, with a pair of tracts also located in Bowman County. State Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand


Forks, said it was good to hear that the board had decided to take a step back and address the issue. “It sounds to me like it’s moving for-


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ward in a good way,” Triplett said. Triplett submitted a letter to board members on Feb. 1 asking them to at least withdraw the acreage, if not post- pone the lease auction to allow for time for a solution to be found for handling sensitive acreage. In an unrelated matter, Gaebe gave


MIKE McCLEARY/Tribune


TOP: State Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe speaks to Secretary of State Al Jaeger during the Board of University and School Lands meeting held at the state Capitol Feb. 3. BOTTOM: Members of the Board of University and School Lands, chairman Gov. Jack Dalrymple, center, Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Wayne Sanstead and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, left, and Secretary of State Al Jaeger and Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe discuss holding back more state-owned tracts from an oil leasing auction during a meeting at the state Capitol on Feb. 3.


a brief overview of the Energy Infra- structure and Impact Offi ce’s grant ap- plications for emergency services and re- sponse. A total of 160 applications were received before the Jan. 31 deadline with requests totaling approximately $40 mil- lion. “We have reserved $2 million,” Gaebe


said.


During the November 2011 special session, a plan was passed to allocate an


additional $30 million to the oil impact fund contingent on oil and gas tax col- lections exceeding projections by $48 million or more at the end of February. Gaebe said that this is likely to be the case and that more funding should be available for this grant round. The grant awards will be announced in March. (Reach reporter Nick Smith at 701- 250-8255 or at nick.smith@bismarcktri- bune.com.)


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