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Reep v. State

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20004
Nos. 2013 ND 253, (N.D., 12/26/2013)

The North Dakota Supreme Court held that the state owns the mineral interests under the shore zone of the Missouri River, which cuts through the oil-rich Bakken Shale region. Under the equal footing doctrine, the state's title to the beds of navigable waters extends from high watermark to high watermark, just as it did at the moment of statehood in 1889. Upland landowners argued that a state statute granted them full interest in the shore zone, but their interpretation of the statute was misplaced. The anti-gift clause of the state constitution precludes North Dakota from allocating or gifting its mineral interests under the shore zone to an upland owner, and the statute does not convey or allocate the state's equal footing interest in minerals under the shore zone. The court's decision, however, does not preclude an upland owner from taking to the low watermark if the chain of title establishes the state has granted its equal footing interest to an upland owner.