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Input sought on private access across Forest Service land

The McKenzie County Ranger District is looking to the public for input on granting a contractor private access across nearly 5 acres of U.S. Forest Service land.

GMX Resources Inc. would use the road to access the Charlie State 21-16-1H oil and gas well that is located on state land. State and federal minerals would be drilled for on the site.

According to a letter sent last week to the public from Nancy Peak, acting grasslands supervisor, the road would be 3,514 feet in length and 60 feet wide, and run through the Little Missouri National Grasslands in southwest McKenzie County.

"We looked for other alternatives, but due to things like typography coming in and long access route, we want to limit access to resources," said Jeff Ingalls, natural resources specialist for the McKenzie Ranger District.

Over time, if the proposed well becomes a producer, there may also be opportunities to install utility services along the road, such as electric, communication, water, oil and gas lines.

Debbie Riely, project coordinator at the McKenzie County Ranger District office, was not available this week for comment about the proposal.

But the public should send their concerns, comments and questions about the proposal to Riely either by mail or in-person at McKenzie Ranger District, 1901 South Main St., Watford City, ND 58854, by phone at 701-842-2394 or via email at

All comments should specifically address the project and need to be submitted to Riely by Monday.

Babete Anderson, public affairs officer for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands/U.S. Forest Service, said similar road access projects have been done before.

Anderson said Thursday that the McKenzie County Ranger District has yet to receive any public comments on this project.

"But we'd like people to review the proposal and give us their comments," she said.

The comments will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary team that will adapt the comments to what has already been proposed or suggest alternative routes for the road.

In addition, the team will examine the environmental impacts and submit their findings to Riely for her consideration.

Ingalls said it appears that the project would have minimal impact on the general public.

"An environmental analysis, which is done on all forest service lands before projects can begin, was already completed, and it did not identify any adverse impacts on the land's environmental resources," he said. "It's hard to say what the public will think. There is some other existing oil development in that area, so there may be some increased traffic in that area, but that is the only real impact I can foresee on the public at this time."

Ingalls could not say if and when construction of the access road would begin if the project is approved.

"At the very earliest, I would say mid- to late-October it may be possible to begin construction if the project receives approval," he said.

It will be up to Peak to decide if the construction should be authorized on the land and under what conditions the project can be completed.