State wins in Missouri River mineral rights rulingA district judge has ruled in favor of the state of North Dakota in a dispute over mineral rights near the Missouri River, but the issue is likely headed to the state Supreme Court.
By: Forum News Service, The Jamestown Sun
WILLISTON, N.D. — A district judge has ruled in favor of the state of North Dakota in a dispute over mineral rights near the Missouri River, but the issue is likely headed to the state Supreme Court.
Northwest Judicial District Judge David Nelson ruled in a decision dated Jan. 28 and filed Monday that the state of North Dakota owns the minerals in the “shore zone,” or the area on navigable waterways between the ordinary high and low watermarks.
The dispute, which involved several private mineral rights owners, focuses on a 50-mile area of the Missouri River between North Dakota and Montana.
Nelson notes in his ruling that his decision is not necessarily the final word on the issue and that “circumstances may warrant an immediate appeal.”
In a statement, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said, “We believe the District Court decision correctly determined the status of the law in this important case. Still, this was only the first step. We hope to have this matter presented to the North Dakota Supreme Court as expeditiously as possible. They will likely have the final word in the matter.”
Attorney Jan Conlin of Minneapolis law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday. Conlin told a Bloomberg reporter they intend to appeal.