Bis to lose boat ramp

guywhofishes

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Yes Kathy Fiest from Bianca realty. The house (McMansion) just south of the water plant that looks like it’s stuffed on the lot and should be in south port or misty waters. Not sure how many Kathy fiests there are in Bismarck. Never understood why you’d want that house in that spot other than to gain attention
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Slappy

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To be clear, this discussion is about the taking and destruction of existing, heavily-utilized, publicly-owned infrastructure that is already in short supply and gifting it to a private, profit-driven organization, displacing the current users. My opposition to this project is only loosely related to my personal interest in accessing this stretch of river by boat. Anyone who utilizes this parking lot to access the trail system or other nearby park facilities would be negatively impacted by this proposal. This existing public property has been paid for by federal, state and local taxes. I object to the proposal to cede the property and its current utilization to the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation (FALF) to redevelop and monetize it to suit their interests.

This meeting was organized and led by individuals from City of Bismarck (Mayor Mike Schmitz and City Admin Jason Tomanek), the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation (a guy resembling Butt-Head), the project architect (Jake Axtman) and the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (Brock Wahl). The meeting was not posted on the City of Bismarck calendar. The only reason I was aware of the meeting was the post by @bravo, and the only reference to the meeting by the City of Bismarck that I found online was a post on LinkedIn.

The proposal is to grant the entirety of Keelboat Park to FALF to redevelop this area as a publicly-funded profit center for their organization. They already have the Lewis & Clark Riverboat and the Huckleberry House... why not monopolize parking and utilization of the area around these existing “non-profit” businesses?

The meeting was mostly led by Brock Wahl of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA). I don’t personally know anyone affiliated with this organization, and their online reputation among sportsmen is mixed to put it lightly. Brock began the meeting in the exact same fashion as the supposed “public input meetings” hosted by FALF a couple months ago: “This project is going forward and we value your input unless it is counter to our objectives”.

The project sponsors cite the new (still without a permit from the USACE) Mandan boat ramp as a replacement, intentionally failing to recognize that 1) the proposed project includes zero obligation or funding to expand existing boat ramp access, 2) low-maintenance boat ramps such as Keelboat Park are already demand-constrained, 3) it takes years to secure federal permits to do anything adjacent to a major river, and 4) the proposed project does not include any funding for replacement of the facility they wish to condemn.

Brock made regular use of the “lemons into lemonade” phrase when suggesting the public be satisfied by renderings of far-fetched, unfunded new boat ramp projects which have nothing to do with the proposed transfer of this property. There is zero obligation from the project sponsors to provide any replacement or remediation, and even if they made such a pledge there is no plan or funding in place to provide a replacement. It takes many years to get a USACE “Corps” permit to do anything up to and including taking a shit on or along the Missouri River. The only reasonable conclusion from attending this meeting is that BHA is aligned with the project sponsors in repurposing this existing facility. This is affirmed by the mission statement on the BHA website which makes clear they do not support motorboat access to major rivers boasting incredible fisheries.

At one point during the meeting Brock taunted that a lawsuit may be the only way to prevent this boondoggle going forward. That is certainly something I could organize. In the meantime I request that any likeminded individuals reshare this information and reach out to their local, state and federal representatives to encourage this project be stopped. Please let me know if you need help locating contact information for your elected representatives.


Source: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/mission_and_values


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bravo

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Huh. I was under the impression BHA opposed the ramp removal hence why they were promoting the meeting.

Both the amphitheater / hotel / beach / pier and the Mandan boat ramp seem like pipe dreams since the corps typically doesn’t allow you to build in their waterways.
 

lunkerslayer

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I'm still interested in if these are pet projects that get special funding from state tax grants via legacy funds.
 


guywhofishes

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Huh. I was under the impression BHA opposed the ramp removal hence why they were promoting the meeting.

Both the amphitheater / hotel / beach / pier and the Mandan boat ramp seem like pipe dreams since the corps typically doesn’t allow you to build in their waterways.
Slappy's take is on target IMO.

BHA appears to me to be a leftist cloak organization with an agenda to go green and reduce access to resources by normies. Sierra Club type agenda - that's "for the sportsman". Pfft.
 

Bfishn

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BHA is a Democrat lobbying group. Time and time again I see them make decisions that go against sportsman interest. I thought they may actually be taking the correct side on this but apparently not and I cant say I'm surprised. Id be interested in hearing their rationale for supporting reducing access to public waters in the name of development?
 
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Slappy

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I'm still interested in if these are pet projects that get special funding from state tax grants via legacy funds.
Yes, pet project completely reliant upon seizing public property and dollars. They used the land gift to secure a $4 million handout from the state. Additional taxpayer dollars will be spent for construction, operation and maintenance if the project is not stopped.

https://www.kfyrtv.com/2023/11/08/riverfront-development-receives-multi-million-dollar-grant/
 

lunkerslayer

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That 4 million sure would help out those people who have property taxes issues, this was what I was talking about and needed an example of a pet project that uses tax dollars for personal gains for the select few.
 


BrockW

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Brock Wahl here from North Dakota BHA. I was notified of Slappys post and wanted to make sure the correct information was put out since I think he is twisting some information and not providing the necessary context. People are certainly free to come to their own conclusions.

First off, for all intents and purposes this project is going forward with very little likelihood of it being stopped. I know slappy doesn’t like that, and we don’t necessarily like it either, but unfortunately that is fact. The city commission has already voted to approve the land transfer, FALF has already received funding for the project, and a vast majority of public feedback is supportive of the project. We see little value in protesting a project this late in the game, given all the other variables at play. Especially since the goal is to have a new ramp on the Mandan side (car bodies) completed by 2025. I should add that the new Mandan ramp is supposed to have the exact same number of trailer parking spots as the Grant marsh ramp.

In terms of legal recourse, that is certainly an option slappy and others may pursue. Based on our consultations, that will be a giant waste of time, money, and energy. Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation has checked all the boxes and obtained necessary grants/funding, commission votes, etc.

In our opinion, this means that if the city commission was to reverse course on their previous approving vote of this project, FALF would likely have a good case to sue the city for going back on their decision. A potential hefty legal bill for the tax payer.

So, the facts are what they are. At this point, our chapter doesn’t support or oppose this project. Not because we don’t have an opinion, but because based on our discussions with project stakeholders, it’s too late for any stance we take to mean much or do anything productive other than just be angry and obnoxious. With respect to the rest of the community and the many people who supported this project, we don’t feel that is a wise use of our energy. Instead, we’d like to pursue a way forward where anglers get something in return.

Additionally, public input/engagement processes began in 2018 and went all the way into 2023. From what I’ve seen and been told, there was a grand total of 3 mentions of the boat ramp during that period, and many more comments than that in support of the project. So anglers, including those like myself who use that boat ramp, missed our opportunity to weigh in with our objections or alternatives.

I will take partial blame for this. Our chapter was just getting off the ground in 2018 and city projects like this were just not on our radar for things to monitor. That’s not an excuse, we try not to miss anything, but in this case we just missed it. Like many anglers, we didn’t catch it until it was too late and the project was in the final stages before construction.

The meaning of this meeting was not to raise hell and get the project stopped. It was to gather input on how to move forward in a productive manner. Complaining on Facebook, or showing up and interrupting public meetings to shout rude things from the crowd offers no value and nothing constructive other than making anglers look bad. I had to convince stakeholders that anglers could come to the table and be productive to make this meeting happen, because many angling folks were the opposite of productive in the planning meetings earlier this year(after the project had received all approvals and funding necessary to move forward).

Slappy(if he is who I think he is) and a couple others, almost made the meeting completely useless. Luckily, there was a few there who saw the writing on the wall and were reasonable people willing to move forward and find a way to still get some benefit to area anglers.

So what’s next? I already have a meeting scheduled with the Bismarck Parks and Rec, Burleigh county, ND game and fish, and the city of Bismarck to talk about improving/expanding Fox Island boat ramp and Kneifel Landing boat ramp. If things fall the way I’d like with those stake holders, I will be going to the 2025 legislature to obtain the rest of the funding through a sovereign lands grant. Hopefully, this time next year the money has been obtained to make significant expansions to both of those ramps in both parking and additional ramps.

My chapter and I see this as a much more productive and respectful path forward than other approaches previously mentioned, I.e. using outrage and anger. Considering the public support this project had, I doubt complaining to legislators will be very productive as we will likely be out numbered if project supporters get wind of it and start writing in.

My intent with this post is just to inform the public of our assessment of the situation and our action plan moving forward. To make some lemonade out of lemons is indeed the way I would describe it. It’s not ideal, it’s not perfect for anglers, we wish we could go back to 2018 and get a redo, but it is what it is and we’re going to be men about it.

So, our opinion is let’s do what we can to get something out of this and get some significant improvements to 2 other ramps and welcome the addition of the Mandan ramp as well.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post and let me know if you have any questions.
 
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BrockW

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Slappy's take is on target IMO.

BHA appears to me to be a leftist cloak organization with an agenda to go green and reduce access to resources by normies. Sierra Club type agenda - that's "for the sportsman". Pfft.
I’m a fifth generation North Dakotan and a lifelong hunter. Our state chapters have successfully opposed predator hunting bans and other anti-hunting efforts in other states. They’ve opened up hundreds of thousands of acres to public hunting.

3 of our board members work in the oil and gas industry. To call us a liberal, sierra club type organization is wildly inaccurate.

You may not agree with everything we do, and that’s fine. But at the end of the day our org’s membership is politically diverse with only 20% claiming to be democrat and 20% claiming republican. The rest claim independent or other. We work on behalf of and advocate for publicly owned lands and waters, publicly owned wildlife, access to them and the ability to hunt and pursue them in wild places by regular folks. That’s who we are, like us or not.
 

BrockW

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Both the amphitheater / hotel / beach / pier
Correct, these are long shots to happen and unlikely to happen anytime in the near future, if at all. The hotel is the most unlikely.


the Mandan boat ramp seem like pipe dreams
Mandan is still waiting for some final approvals but my understanding is that this project has a 99% chance of happening and the goal is to start construction in 2024, but it may be 2025.
 

Rowdie

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Thanks for the response. I have never used a ramp in Bismarck so it doesn't affect me. I read the news and pay pretty close attention to things or so I thought. I'm not the only one that didn't hear anything until it was too late! That's what passes people off!!
 

Allen

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Right, I tend to pay attention to what's going on with rivers and other bodies of water, yet this caught me by surprise. I get it, I don't watch a lot of local TV (ok, almost none), but those who propose these types of projects have it incumbent on them to not make people feel blindsided.

IMHO, Bismarck already has a boat ramp problem. One can't (or at least couldn't) get out of Misty Waters during the prime spring fishing, the Desert Ramp has been marginal for years, as has the Maclean Bottoms ramp. Hazelton has been getting sedimented in due to normal river changes, and that's not likely to improve anytime soon. Ramps on the Bismarck side are increasingly difficult to maintain, and now we're losing what is arguably the best of the group.

At least NDGF puts a sign up at a ramp before temporarily closing it for repairs.
 


guywhofishes

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I’m a fifth generation North Dakotan and a lifelong hunter. Our state chapters have successfully opposed predator hunting bans and other anti-hunting efforts in other states. They’ve opened up hundreds of thousands of acres to public hunting.

3 of our board members work in the oil and gas industry. To call us a liberal, sierra club type organization is wildly inaccurate.

You may not agree with everything we do, and that’s fine. But at the end of the day our org’s membership is politically diverse with only 20% claiming to be democrat and 20% claiming republican. The rest claim independent or other. We work on behalf of and advocate for publicly owned lands and waters, publicly owned wildlife, access to them and the ability to hunt and pursue them in wild places by regular folks. That’s who we are, like us or not.
Let’s hear about your wins for the average outdoorsman in ND.

And what’s the purpose of your org being so prominently portrayed in this particular issue/meeting?
 

Allen

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Correct, these are long shots to happen and unlikely to happen anytime in the near future, if at all. The hotel is the most unlikely.



Mandan is still waiting for some final approvals but my understanding is that this project has a 99% chance of happening and the goal is to start construction in 2024, but it may be 2025.

Just curious, and maybe you don't know the answer to this. But if the hotel, amphitheater, beach and pier are longshots to take place. What exactly does that leave this river development with for assets? A bridge, a parking lot and a boardwalk? Doesn't seem to me there's any income generating capacity without those features that are a longshot.
 

guywhofishes

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I would imagine there are plenty of PETA, SPCA, and SPLC members who work in the ND oil gas industry too. That’s a pretty silly card to play when it comes to defending an organization’s motivations/politics.
 

Fester

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Just curious, and maybe you don't know the answer to this. But if the hotel, amphitheater, beach and pier are longshots to take place. What exactly does that leave this river development with for assets? A bridge, a parking lot and a boardwalk? Doesn't seem to me there's any income generating capacity without those features that are a longshot.
Alot of grant/tax payor money in everybody's pocket...except the tax payor..easy to answer. Brock how much will you make?
 

BrockW

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I'm not the only one that didn't hear anything until it was too late! That's what passes people off!!
Right, I tend to pay attention to what's going on with rivers and other bodies of water, yet this caught me by surprise.
IMHO, Bismarck already has a boat ramp problem. One can't (or at least couldn't) get out of Misty Waters during the prime spring fishing, the Desert Ramp has been marginal for years, as has the Maclean Bottoms ramp. Hazelton has been getting sedimented in due to normal river changes, and that's not likely to improve anytime soon. Ramps on the Bismarck side are increasingly difficult to maintain, and now we're losing what is arguably the best of the group.
I would agree with all of the above. Communication wasn't ideal. Personally, I think part of the issue is that this just isn't what either side is used to in terms of communication. The hunting/angling community isn't accustomed to looking for this stuff in city government, and the city government side isn't used to communicating with the hunting/angling crowd, in fact we're probably a minority of their constituents. In my opinion, that can lead to some gaps in communication. Just my 2 pennies.

Just curious, and maybe you don't know the answer to this. But if the hotel, amphitheater, beach and pier are longshots to take place. What exactly does that leave this river development with for assets? A bridge, a parking lot and a boardwalk? Doesn't seem to me there's any income generating capacity without those features that are a longshot.
I can't answer that. My involvement in these discussions only pertained to the boat ramp. My initial conversations were trying to get this project relocated to a different area. Like was discussed in the meeting, there really isn't another place they could put this type of project. So, then my goals shifted to trying to get something out of this for anglers.
 


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