Jamestown Reservoir land transferred to Stutsman County

Virtual signing ceremony held for the transfer of title of Jamestown Reservoir land from the Bureau of Reclamation to Stutsman County.

Jamestown Reservoir land signing
Brent Esplin, regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, signs off on the title to 4,400 acres of land transferred from the federal government to Stutsman County Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. John M. Steiner / The Sun

With the stroke of a pen by Brent Esplin, regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, title to 4,400 acres of land transferred from the federal government to Stutsman County Tuesday.

The signing ceremony was held as a virtual event organized by Sen. John Hoeven's (R-N.D.) office with participation from area officials as well as Hoeven and Esplin.

“We appreciate everyone involved, including the homeowners association, Stutsman County, BOR, Senator (Rich) Wardner and Rep. (Craig) Headland, for working with us to bring the pieces together and make local ownership of this land a reality," Hoeven said.

The land transfer gives Stutsman County title to land that has been owned by the Bureau of Reclamation since the construction of Jamestown Dam in the 1950s. Lots that have been previously leased to cabin owners can now be sold to those cabin owners.

Headland, R-Montpelier, a cabin owner at the reservoir, called it a great day for the people of Stutsman County.


"This is going to become a reality," he said. "At times we didn't think we'd get this done."

Darin Peterson, president of the Cabin Owners Association, said the idea of the cabin owners being able to purchase the land at their cabin sites goes back 30 or 40 years. He noted the late Fran Romsdahl and the late Dean Anderson, who were cabin owners, had championed the idea previously and would be happy it finally became a reality.

Hoeven called owning the land under your home a "big deal" for the cabin owners and thanked the local people involved including the Cabin Owners Association, Stutsman County Commission and other groups for their leadership and cooperation in moving the project forward.

"The opportunity to own the lots our homes have stood on for decades provides long-term assurance for those of us committed to living and working in the community of Jamestown and allows for growth and development of tourism in the beautiful Jamestown area," Peterson said.

In 2016 an effort to place a limit on the amount the cabin land lease payments could increase each year was introduced in Congress by Hoeven. From there, the idea expanded to transfer the land to the county with the understanding the cabin owners would have the option to purchase the property their cabins are located on.

As part of the transfer process, Stutsman County has already had the cabin properties surveyed and appraised to establish fair market sales prices for the lots. The county could start the sales process of the lots at anytime.

The additional land the county is acquiring around the reservoir can be used for recreational activities now under the control of Stutsman County while the Bureau of Reclamation remains responsible for the operation and maintenance of Jamestown Dam.

"We're working on millions (of dollars) to be invested in the spillway and the dam," Hoeven said.

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