Hoeven: Bipartisan Lands Package Will Help Advance Title Transfer for Oakes Test Area, Improve & Expand North Country Scenic Trail

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today helped pass bipartisan legislation to improve federal and state public lands management, transfer lands to state and local control to support economic development and increase access to outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, which crafted and approved the legislation last Congress, and worked to ensure the bill advances the following priorities for North Dakota:

  • The legislation streamlines the process for transferring titles from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to local authorities. This aligns with Hoeven’s recently-introduced legislation to transfer the title for the Oakes Test Area to the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District. The legislation passed today would remove the need for congressional authorization prior to transferring the title of a BOR project facility. Accordingly, once BOR and the irrigation district finalize the terms of a deal, the transfer would be able to move forward. This will ensure the facility is not abandoned and enable the district to better adapt it to serve local needs.
  • The bill includes legislation Hoeven introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to improve and expand the North Country Scenic Trail, which currently runs from New York to North Dakota. 

“This legislation is the result of our bipartisan efforts in the Senate ENR Committee,” said Hoeven. “In addition to its benefits for sportsmen and local economic development, this bill specifically helps advance two priorities for North Dakota. It removes the need for congressional authorization of the Oakes Test Area title transfer. That means the transfer can move forward as soon as the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District reaches a final agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation on purchasing the facility. The bill also includes the legislation I recently helped reintroduce to expand the North Country Scenic Trail, a recreation resource that promotes tourism and makes wonderful, natural landscapes more accessible in North Dakota and across the northern U.S.” 

In addition to the priorities above, the legislation passed today:

  • Increases access for sportsmen on federal lands.
  • Reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and strengthens its support for state-led outdoor recreation and conservation efforts.
  • Supports state and local economic development through land exchanges and conveyances.