Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  The U.S. House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent S.2205 the “Blunt Reservoir and Pierre Canal Land Conveyance Act of 2006." This legislation will 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 will allow the original landowners the option to purchase the land they lost, and will 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 legislation is long overdue and I am glad that the House and the Senate have both acted on returning this land to its rightful owners," said Thune. “This land was either purchased or taken through condemnation for a specific purpose and that project never came to fruition. I look forward to the President signing this legislation and addressing the roughly 20,000 acres of land currently owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation."

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 was cosponsored by Senator Tim Johnson and Representative Herseth worked to pass a companion measure in the House earlier this year. The legislation was also supported by Governor Mike Rounds.