Friday, March 31, 2017

Reclamation, delayed by protesters, along Dakota Access Pipeline worries landowners

The Dakota Access Pipeline and an associated protest has packed a two-part punch for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota's Morton and Sioux counties. While completion of the pipeline was scheduled for the week of March 20, ranchers are fearing a third effect — soil erosion caused by reclamation delays. Doug Hille ranches with his wife, Carol, and daughter, Steph, at Chimney Butte Ranch. They have about 300 purebred Gelbvieh cows and harvest about 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, plus hay and forage. Hille grew up east of St. Anthony. He graduated in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University in 1971, worked for Steiger Tractor Co., the North Dakota National Guard and in industrial sales before moving back to the area in the fall of 1989. The couple's "investment" ranch turned into a purebred Gelbvieh operation. "In certain areas, restoration activities were unable to be completed due to frozen conditions," said Lisa Dillinger, spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., of Dallas, said. "Those remaining activities will be completed after the winter months. The protests did not impact restoration schedules." John Shultz grew up near Parshall, ranched near Flasher and had a career in coal mining, starting in land reclamation management at a mine near Stanton. Schultz, who now lives in Mandaon, has experience in reclamation. He has worked with area ranchers on reclamation negotiations and said it seems "obvious" that the reclamation schedule was affected. "There were many days they didn't work where they were shut down along the pipeline when protesters were going there in the late summer and fall," he said. "Landowners were aware of what was going on, and talking to the crews out there. They weren't working in a vacuum." Shultz said it was an exceptionally long fall. He said he couldn't explain any rationale for such a denial. Roughly 30 miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline right-of-way is still not reclaimed, about 150 feet wide, west of the Missouri River. "We really need to get the land reclaimed as soon as possible, without all kinds of strange people and restrictions about where and when we can cross," Hille said. "We would have been back to normal before Oct. 1 had the protest not stopped everything. We would have had green growth on top of the disturbed ground had these people not shot things down."...more

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