OMAHA, NE – The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA/CW) has directed funding be made available as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget to implement a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for transferring jurisdiction of some Garrison project lands no longer needed for construction, maintenance and operation, to the Department of the Interior to be held in trust for the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation).
In May 2015, the ASA/CW and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (DOI/IA) signed an MOA outlining the process for transferring jurisdiction, but at the time of signature, funds were not available. Funding is expected in mid-April.
The MOA, itself, does not transfer jurisdiction over the lands, but describes the next steps in that direction. The MOA is consistent with Public Law (P.L.) 98-602, the Fort Berthold Mineral Restoration Act (FBMRA) and provides that the current land use will continue unchanged after the transfer. It also provides that public access will be granted and prohibits residential development, mineral harvesting or other activities that could threaten the operation of the Garrison Project. The Corps will retain management of Recreation and Wildlife Management lands.
To implement the MOA the Corps, Omaha District will finalize the 2006 Draft Effects Report, complete an environmental review of the property, draft and process the documents required to transfer the jurisdiction of the land to the DOI. It is anticipated that the completion of the transfer process could take place within one year of the initiation of the process.
In 2004, the Chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, North Dakota, asked the ASA/CW to transfer Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea project lands within the exterior boundary of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. The Chairman based his request on Public Law (P.L.) 98-602, the Fort Berthold Mineral Restoration Act (FBMRA). The FBMRA provides that any land no longer needed for the construction, maintenance or operation of the Garrison Project may be transferred to the Interior to be held in trust for the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation).
Beginning in 2005, the Corps implemented a process that maximized public, state, Tribal and Federal involvement in this effort which included several meetings in 2005 and 2006 with interested public, state, Tribal and Federal parties. The draft Effects Report, dated May 2006, concluded that lands within the Fort Berthold Reservation boundaries, above 1854 m.s.l., excluding current recreation and wildlife management areas, were eligible for consideration under the FBMRA.
Public comments from the previous outreach efforts will be taken into account when finalizing the Effects Report. The 2006 draft Effects Report and other associated information is available for viewing online.