State and federal officials are blocking any work on the Bakken oil pipeline in an area of Lyon County that is said to contain Native American burial grounds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put a hold on the permit for pipeline construction in the Big Sioux River Complex Wildlife Management Area in far northwest Iowa. Members of the Upper Sioux tribe say graves are located directly in the proposed pipeline route. If federal officials confirm the historic burial sites are there, developers will have to reconfigure the pipeline route to avoid that site.
The Big Sioux River Complex Wildlife Management Area is four miles south of Larchwood. The state owns the property and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved a construction permit for the pipeline in March, but noted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had to sign off as well. In March, the DNR’s director said the application from pipeline developers had been “thoroughly reviewed” and the state agency did not find “any long-term negative impact to the environment or natural resources.”
The proposed route for the crude oil pipeline is parallel to a natural gas pipeline that already runs through the Big Sioux River Complex Management Area. State officials said in March that Dakota Access had agreed to spend $400,000 re-establishing wildlife habitat in the area once the pipeline was buried underground.
State officials have given the company permission to bore under the Des Moines River in Boone County and the Mississippi River in Lee County. Those permits are not affected by the call to halt activity in northwest Iowa near the Big Sioux River.