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Money requested to study Killdeer Mountain

BISMARCK -- A proposal in the state Senate seeks to provide $250,000 to do an archaeological study within the Battle of Killdeer Mountain study area, in part due to the encroachment of oil development.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, testified Thursday to the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee in support of Senate Bill 2341, which would study an area of historical and cultural significance for the state that is also becoming affected by oil activity, he said.

Wardner said he believes oil can coexist with preserving cultural resources using horizontal drilling techniques.

The State Historical Society has surveyed only about 3 percent of the battlefield area, Director Merlan Paaverud told legislators. Completing a study would allow the Historical Society to work with energy companies so they can avoid disturbing cultural resources, Paaverud said.

Fern Swenson, deputy state historic preservation officer, said there are 39 existing or proposed oil wells to date within the study area.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission recently approved a plan from Hess Corp. to drill up to eight oil wells in an area of the Killdeer Mountains that drew concerns from archaeologists, landowners, Native Americans and others.