KILLDEER, N.D. (AP) — The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on what action to take after a North Dakota rancher built a bridge across the Little Missouri River that the agency says trespasses on public land.

One end of the bridge northwest of Killdeer is on land owned by rancher Wylie Bice, The Bismarck Tribune reported . The other end sits on land the agency manages, according to the bureau's North Dakota Field Office.

Bice said he believed he owned the property and that he obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The bridge was constructed in 2013. The bureau didn't learn about the bridge until July 2017.

The bureau is assessing how to resolve the issue. Options include removing the bridge, selling the agency's land or authorizing the bridge.

"It's a difficult situation due to the fact that it's a high-quality bridge and one end of it is on public land," said Loren Wickstrom, manager of the BLM North Dakota Field Office. "We'll just have to wait and see after we do the environmental assessment which is the preferred alternative."

An unpaved access road, a water settling pond and portions of two alfalfa fields also are on public lands without permission, the agency said. Nearly 13 acres of public land are affected overall.

Wickstrom said Bice has been cooperative in the process. Bice will pay for the environmental assessment and will also be charged back rent.

Bice said he built the bridge to connect to his ranching operation and picked the location to avoid removing too many trees.

"It was the best place to put it without doing a bunch of damage," Bice said.

Bice said he wants to work with the agency. He said he is investigating whether the bureau changed the boundary of the land within the last 50 years.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,