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BLM study projects economic increase

A recent Bureau of Land Management study projects an increase in the economy this year.

The BLM in Dickinson reports it has four lease sales scheduled and 300 applications for permits to drill on public and tribal lands.

On a recent visit to Oklahoma City, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar called the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management "one of the nation's greatest assets both economically and environmentally."

In 2010, energy development from federal minerals contributed $1.4 billion to the North Dakota economy and supported 6,308 jobs in the state, according to a report by the Department of Interior.

"That number includes direct jobs like those who work in the oil field and coal-mining operations and indirect jobs such as hotel, restaurant and retail employees," said Lonny Bagley, field manager of the North Dakota BLM in Dickinson.

On a grander scale, Salazar noted that America's public lands and resources from the land contributed more than $112 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than a half-million American jobs in 2010.

He added the majority of those figures come from the management of energy and non-energy mineral resources and recreation, for which North Dakota is known.

The North Dakota BLM manages 58,000 surface acres of public lands and 6 million acres of mineral estate, Bagley said.

The revenue generated off this land can be split into three categories: energy, recreation and grazing.

Last year, $967.7 million was directly generated by oil and gas and $2.1 million by coal development, according to the report.

"I have worked with the BLM in leasing land to bring it into our mining operation for over 30 years," said Jim Melchior, manager for North American Coal Land in Bismarck. "We work well together. The BLM helps us maximize recovery and produce coal as cost effectively as possible."

Bagley said he expects the mineral-related contributions to the economy to increase this year thanks to lease sales and new applications to drill.

Recreation on BLM land contributes $1 million.

He said recreational activities on BLM land include biking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting and wildlife viewing.

"We had 20,758 visitors last year, Bagley said.

Grazing brought in $300,000 last year, according to the report.

Bagley said that last year, 5,200 cattle, 250 bison and 100 sheep utilized BLM land in North Dakota.