By Crystal Thompson
A meeting regarding the Crow Boundary Settlement Act Land Exchange took place at the Havre Bureau of Land Management at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Russ Sorenson, project manager of the exchange, presented maps and answered questions concerning Phase 4 of the land exchange project, which involves the sale of small tracts of BLM land throughout Montana. Phase 4 is an assembled land exchange, in which the BLM gives the grazing leases of the selected tracts a chance to purchase the land at appraised market value. The funds raised during the sale of these tracts would be used by the BLM in order to acquire a selected parcel of land for the Crow Tribe.
In 1994, President Clinton signed the Crow Boundary Settlement Act into law. The Act reaffirmed the 107th Meridian, which is the eastern boundary of the Crow reservation. The meridian was miscalculated in an 1868 survey and as a consequence, some land to which the Crow Tribe was entitled was not included within their reservation. Therefore, BLM has been working with the Crow Tribe by selling tracts of BLM land in order to acquire the funds to purchase sections of private land to reimburse the Crow Tribe for the century-old survey error.
At last night's meeting, some concerns arose regarding minerals on the lands, as well as underground utility lines. Sorenson said that the BLM will not be giving up any minerals, and that utility lines would be able to receive a perpetual easement in the event of sale. Statements and questions concerning locations and purchasing process were also discussed. Sorenson said that the Phase 4 process should take at least a year to be completed.
"It's a very complex process that has a lot of folks involved," Sorenson said.
For more information on selected tracts of land in this area, contact Lou Hagener or Owen Billingsley at the Havre Field Station by calling 265-5891. For information on the Phase 4 Land Exchange throughout Montana contact Russ Sorenson at the Dillon Field Office at 683-8036.