The 17 sections in Township 154 North, Range 96 West shown with the purple squares and green dots and the yellow sections are all under water and were privately owned farm land before the US Army Corps of Engineers took the land for flooding from Garrison Dam. The purple squares and green dots represents 17 sections of land under Lake Sakakawea that Nelson, Sorum, and Coachmen are claiming a mineral interest. The yellow sections are the same sections in which they are claiming a mineral interest. The three men are not claiming the historical river channel in blue, only lands above the river channel that they claim belongs to the State, but the State has abdicated its interest and therefore they are claiming it as their own.
The three men who are challenging the North Dakota State Legislature’s efforts to refund over $187 million held in escrow to private mineral owners have filed mineral claims on over 17 sections in Township 154 North, Range 96 West in McKenzie County under Lake Sakakawea.
It immediately came under fire from Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) who was the state senator at the time who sponsored the original state legislation ordering the refunds to those mineral owners. He contends the minerals (which were originally owned by the ND State Land Dept.) “were taken without due process.”
“I hope someone files a slander of title against them,” Armstrong said, after he pointed out they do not have a direct relationship to these minerals. “They filed this for themselves and not for the people.”
Filing mineral claim by Paul Sorum of Fargo, Marvin Nelson of Rolla and Michael Coachman of Larimore is also being questioned by other mineral owners.
Their March 26 claim filed in McKenzie County asserts a one-third interest for each of the three men. It states they are doing so because the state of North Dakota does not own the minerals and does not have authority to assign ownership.
“We have a good faith claim,” Sorum told the Oil Patch Hotline. “If we did not do it, oil executives would end up owning the minerals.”