Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Today the U.S. Senate passed S.2205 the "Blunt Reservoir and Pierre Canal Land Conveyance Act of 2006." This legislation would officially decommission the Blunt Reservoir and Pierre Canal features of the Oahe Irrigation Project that was planned by the federal government under the Flood Control Act of 1944. The 190,000 acre Oahe Irrigation Project in central South Dakota was never completed and Senator Thune's legislation would allow the original landowners the option to purchase the land they lost, and would transfer some parcels of land to the State of South Dakota. Senator Thune has advocated this legislation since 2002 when he served in the House of Representatives.

"This is a fundamental issue of fairness. There are a number of original landowners who would like their land back," said Thune. "It has been decades since landowners either sold their land to the federal government, or had it taken through condemnation. My bill addresses the roughly 20,000 acres of land currently owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Passage of this legislation is long overdue and I'm hopeful that this important bill will be signed into law by President Bush later this year."

In addition to preferential leaseholders being permitted to purchase this land back over the next five years (approximately 13,775 acres), the state of South Dakota (through the Department of Game Fish and Parks) will also regain 4,722 acres of land to partially satisfy the state's Habitat Mitigation Plan due to the hundreds of thousands of acres of land that were lost during the construction of the Oahe Dam.

This bill, which is cosponsored by Senator Tim Johnson, now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives. Representative Herseth introduced a similar bill that was passed earlier this year in the House of Representatives, however drafting errors prevented immediate Senate passage.