Meeting regarding Killdeer Mountain and State Trust lands

Anne Marguerite Coyle, a biological consultant and researcher  for the N.D. Golden Eagle Project, sent out a news release Thursday encouraging conservation-minded people in western North Dakota to attend a meeting of the North Dakota Industrial Commission set for Jan. 24.

The meeting, set for 1 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Governor’s Conference Room at the Capitol in Bismarck, concerns a proposal to drill eight oil wells on the west side of the Killdeer Mountains. Below is the news release in its entirety:

January 9, 2013: Those concerned about the future of the Killdeer Mountain and state trust lands in North Dakota are encouraged to attend a January 24th meeting before the North Dakota State Industrial Commission.

Currently, the Hess Corporation has proposed drilling eight wells on the west side of the Killdeer Mountain along the southern boundary of state trust lands (state school lands) south of the Killdeer Mountain State Management Area. Interest groups including the Killdeer Mountain Alliance, Tribal members, and scientists are requesting the proposed wells be relocated two miles south. The relocation will allow Hess to access oil while minimizing the impact on human safety and loss of invaluable wildlife habitat and sacred lands.

Archaeology consultant and researcher, Dr. Richard Rothaus, identified artifacts located at or near the proposed drill sites. He said, “Thousands of Native Americans gathered at Killdeer each year, at least 150 Native Americans were killed at the Killdeer Mountain Battle. We do not know where they were buried.” North Dakota State Historical Society archaeologists have confirmed the sites discovered by Rothaus, and determined that section 36 has high potential for archaeology.

Dakota Goodhouse, tribal historian of the Hunkpapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota tribes, documented the Killdeer Mountain history and cultural in an article, Taĥċa Wakutėpi: Where They Killed Deer. Goodhouse describes the sacred significance of the Mountain Landscape, including the Medicine Hole and surrounding hunting grounds to many American Indian Tribes.

“Local landowners also value the culture of the area,” said landowner Rob Sand. Some families have personal collections of artifacts. Dickinson State University’s Theodore Roosevelt Center houses an extensive collection donated by the Dvirnak family.
These state lands are part of the Killdeer Mountain Battle Field, as described in a Report published by the National Park Service which states “it is a good candidate for comprehensive preservation.” It is listed as “most at-risk” of the North Dakota Battlefields because of proposed large-scale oil development.

“Habitat loss and fragmentation is shown to adversely impact wildlife populations”, said Dr. Marguerite Coyle, landscape ecologist and eagle researcher. Coyle states, “The state trust lands provide prime wildlife habitat for recreation and hunting. Nearly all of North Dakota is open to oil development and state lands in North Dakota have little enforceable protection. North Dakota can learn from other oil states such as Colorado, Alaska, and Montana that do have more responsible management.”

Landowners in the Oil Patch who would like to have state’s support to protect natural resources on their property. These lands are also important for other fiduciary purposes such as hunting, ranching, and tourism.

Loren and Lori Jepson’s ranch is located on the north end of Section 1, directly south of the proposed well sites. Loren Jepson holds the grazing lease for the state lands. Represented by Attorney Tom Gehrz, with Mackoff Kellogg law firm of Dickinson, Loren and his son presented testimony opposing the drilling on Section 36 during an October 24th Oil and Gas Division hearing.

Lori Jepson, a health care provider in Killdeer, and Rob and Mary Sand, initiated the Killdeer Mountain Alliance.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission will present their decision on NDIC Case No. 18618 on January 24th, at the State Capitol. The meeting time will be posted at nd.gov/ndic near the meeting date. The meeting is open to the public. Those unable to attend the meeting should contact the NDIC at (701) 328-3722 or by email at ndicinfo@nd.gov.

 

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