Farmers Union youth campground planned at Jamestown Reservoir

Youth camp proposal
An unknown parcel of land near the Jamestown Dam may be the future home of a permanent youth camp as proposed by the North Dakota Farmers Union. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The Stutsman County Park Board approved negotiating a lease with North Dakota Farmers Union for a future youth camp on lands adjacent to the Jamestown Reservoir during its meeting Tuesday.

Mark Watne, president of North Dakota Farmers Union, said estimated construction and equipment for a planned youth camp could range between $3 million and $4 million.

Watne said Farmers Union owns and operates a camp in western North Dakota at Lake Tschida near Elgin, North Dakota. It has leased a campground at Wesley Acres on Lake Ashtabula near Valley City but would like to build and own its own facility.

The exact location on the reservoir is still under consideration although Farmers Union is looking for 5 to 6 acres of land near the lake. The land is still owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation although a bill authorizing the transfer of the title of the land around the lake to Stutsman County was passed by Congress and signed into law. Currently, the county and Bureau of Reclamation are in the process of completing the transfer which may not take place until the fall, according to Dave Schwartz, Stutsman County commissioner and park board member.

Despite the land not be owned by Stutsman County yet, the park board agreed to "fast track" the contract to allow Farmers Union to begin construction yet this fall with hopes of having the campground operational by the 2021 camping season.


Watne said Farmers Union provides a camping experience to about 1,200 youth each season. Operating campgrounds on each end of the state could help expand the camping operations.

"Our goal is to grow our camping numbers to about 1600 over the next five years," Watne said.

The campground would employ about 25 people most of whom are college students, he said.

The park board also approved contracts with Interstate Engineering to survey the cabin lots along the reservoir and with Dakota Appraisal and Consulting to appraise the land of the cabin lots. Both are requirements for the transfer of the land title of the cabin lots from the Bureau of Reclamation to the cabin owners. The same process will transfer other property around Jamestown Reservoir from the Bureau of Reclamation to Stutsman County.

In other business, the Stutsman County Commission approved a policy concerning staff working at home during the coronavirus pandemic. The policy requires approval by department heads and the county's chief operating officer before staff could work from home. The policy is subject to review by the county commission as the pandemic continues.

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