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North Dakota county wants park closed to squatters

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MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — Morton County officials want campers to visit Crown Butte Dam, but they don't want them planting permanent stakes there.

The county's park director, Tim Nilsen, said people are taking up residence at the park near Mandan. He said he will ask the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to close the 80.5-acre park to camping Tuesdays and Wednesdays to combat squatting. The move would not affect daily recreation use or ban fisherman who want to use the pond daily.

"They come to live here in a tent or a camper," Nilsen told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1lGFY5W ). "With the oil boom, we're seeing more of them pop up in the last two years."

Park board member Cody Schulz said noise and litter have also become problems at the campsite.

"They are using it as a place to stay for weeks at a time," Schulz said. "We want it open for recreation uses so everybody can come and enjoy it." he said.

Morton County park policy already caps campers' stays at 10 days, Schulz said. No camping fees are charged at most of the nine camp sites in the county, including Crown Butte Dam.

Andy Zachmeier, a county park board member, opposes closing camping for parts of the week.

"It's too close to Mandan. For residents in those subdivisions, it should be a little community park," he said.

Zachmeier said since Game and Fish owns the area, it should be the state's decision to close it.

Zachmeier said he doesn't see the squatter issue as a big threat. He said the area is near enough to Mandan to be regularly checked by authorities.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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