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Interior secretary to visit ND

BISMARCK -- U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will visit North Dakota next week, a spokesman for the federal agency confirmed Thursday.

Department of the Interior spokesman Adam Fetcher could not provide details of the visit, but multiple North Dakota government sources said Salazar is expected to be in the state Monday and Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of the Interior "protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future," according to its website.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he's pleased Salazar is coming.

"I've always had a good relationship with the secretary and look forward to showing him -- firsthand -- how North Dakota is playing a vital role in domestic energy production," Conrad said in a statement.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Salazar has appeared before the Energy and Appropriations committees to discuss issues important to North Dakota, including energy development and infrastructure.

"We've also asked Secretary Salazar to work with us on repair of tribal roads, which are seeing significant impacts due to oil and gas development," Hoeven said in a statement. "At the same time, it's important that he work with us on hydraulic fracking and a common sense permitting process for appropriate energy development on tribal and federal lands."

Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said they were made aware of Salazar's plans to visit North Dakota late Wednesday. The secretary has been invited to meet with the governor, Zent said.

Salazar visited North Dakota twice in 2009.

He delivered keynote remarks at the Great Plains Energy Expo and Showcase in Bismarck in the fall and made stops across the state in the spring.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.