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ACTION NEEDED Lake Oahe Land Transfer

by Darrell Belisle


Congressman Cramer has introduced a bill that is the first step toward privatizing the public lands along the Missouri River and Lake Oahe south of Bismarck and Mandan 

If you hunt, fish, trap, camp, hike or use the public land along the Missouri River south of Bismarck and Mandan for any other outdoor recreational purposes this legislation will directly affect you!  These areas are the most heavily used public lands in North Dakota and their loss would be catastrophic to people who value outdoor recreation and the businesses that support such activities. 

Last week Congressman Kevin Cramer introduced a bill that is the first step toward privatizing public lands along the Missouri River and Lake Oahe south of Bismarck and Mandan.  On the surface this bill does not appear to be a threat to public lands because it transfers federally owned land managed by the Corps of Engineers to the State of North Dakota and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  Don’t be fooled.  The proponents of this bill have publicly stated it is their intention to get the land transferred to the state with the next step privatizing it through North Dakota state legislative action.  Unfortunately, Congressman Cramer who has stated that he doesn’t see the need for public lands has agreed to be part of this action that will negatively impact thousands of North Dakotans for the benefit of a select few. 

Earlier this year a similar attempt was made but thanks to the leadership of Senator Hoeven it was stopped.  Senator Hoeven said he would not support any transfer of lands along the Missouri River or Lake Oahe until a consensus was reached on how it should occur and how the lands should be managed. We thank him for taking that approach. 

Everyone needs to contact Congressman Cramer as soon as possible and request he either:  1) withdraw the legislation or 2) add ironclad language to the bill that would prohibit the privatization of these lands.  Also you should request that current recreational facilities such as gun ranges, boat ramps, campgrounds, wildlife management areas, and other areas where the public has invested millions of dollars be safeguarded through specific language in the bill. 

Attached you will find a Position Statement regarding Oahe Land Transfers that has been adopted by a large coalition of outdoor recreation and conservation organizations and a long list of unaffiliated individuals.   It will provide you with more background information. 

Please contact contact Congressman Cramer at his Washington DC office and tell him you oppose this legislation and that it should be withdrawn or changed to protect the recreational values and opportunities associated with the public lands along the Missouri River that we all value.   Contact Congressman Cramer at the following telephone number in Washington DC – 202-225-2611.  Or you can email his chief of staff in Washington DC at


The bill Kevin Cramer presented to Congress,  Here






“If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it” Fred Bear