Hoeven: Oakes Test Area Title Transfer Complete, Will Benefit Region's Ag Producers for Years to Come

Senator Holds Signing Ceremony with Interior Deputy Secretary, Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District

OAKES, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a signing ceremony with Deputy Secretary of the Interior Kate MacGregor and Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District (DSID) officials to mark the completion of the title transfer for the Oakes Test Area. The facility is now owned and operated by DSID, following Hoeven’s efforts to advance negotiations with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and allow the irrigation district to purchase the test area and its infrastructure. This will enable the facility to be adapted to benefit local agriculture producers and prevent it from being abandoned.

Hoeven helped pass legislation last year to remove the need for congressional authorization prior to transferring the title of a BOR project facility, such as the Oakes Test Area. The senator met repeatedly with BOR officials and local stakeholders to move the negotiations forward and ensure the facility was priced fairly. Hoeven also introduced legislation, with Senator Kevin Cramer as an original cosponsor, to authorize the title transfer of the facility.

“With the title transfer now complete, the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District will be able to make needed upgrades to the Oakes Test Area, ensuring this infrastructure will benefit the region’s agriculture producers for years to come,” said Senator Hoeven. “That’s why we advanced legislation to enable this transfer and have worked continuously with the administration throughout the process. We appreciate the irrigation district’s leadership, the Garrison Diversion and the Bureau of Reclamation for joining with us in the effort to finalize this agreement, which will save taxpayers money while also preventing this facility from being abandoned.”

“This title transfer will improve local control and fulfill the Trump Administration's goals to streamline bureaucratic processes and facilitate local investment to help maintain and rebuild American infrastructure,” said Deputy Secretary MacGregor. “The new title transfer process under the Trump Administration has created unprecedented opportunities throughout the West, and I’m proud to be part of this historic effort.” 

“We wish to thank Senator Hoeven and all others who participated in making this transfer a reality. Without their efforts the many challenges faced during this process would not have been overcome,” said Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District Chairman David Locken. “The local decision making the transfer affords Dickey-Sargent puts us in a much better position in dealing with the many future challenges we will face.”

The Oakes Test Area was established at the recommendation of the International Joint Commission. The DSID continued to make use of the facility after it no longer received federal appropriations, but was unable to make modifications due to the required federal approval process. The title transfer removes this hurdle and allows the irrigation district to update the facility.