Oil and gas lease would help Montana kids learn to fish

States can’t usually sell oil and gas leases located in other states, but thanks to a gift, Montana will take advantage of North Dakota’s boom and use the lease money to help kids learn to fish.

Among 21 tracts available in Montana's oil and gas lease sale scheduled for Tuesday, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will offer a lease to develop a North Dakota tract.

The 12-acre lease, part of a 146-acre tract near Lake Sacagawea, was part of a gift from the estate of William “Bill” Kamps, a sportsman who was well known to many in the Kalispell area.

As a result of the gift, the state, or more specifically Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, now owns an partial interest in seven oil and gas tracts in McLean County, N.D., but this is the only tract that is not yet leased. The tracts are in the Williston Basin where oil and gas exploration and production of the Bakken and Three Forks formations are occurring.

At the November FWP commission meeting, FWP attorney Bill Schenk explained that one tract was leased after Kamp died four years ago but before FWP took ownership and could give approval for its part of the lease. As a result, under North Dakota law, FWP won’t get as much revenue because as a penalty, it must pay half of its 8-percent share of the cost of development to WPX Energy, the company drilling on the tract.

To avoid the same thing happening with the unleased tract, FWP scrambled to put a proposal together on short notice and the commissioners had to approve putting it out for lease before Tuesday’s sale, Schenk said.

The other five tracts have no such issues because they were leased before Kamps donated them. FWP will receive a portion of the royalties from all of them through an agreement with the DNRC oil and mineral leasing program, Schenk said.

“(The DNRC) will really do the heavy lifting when it comes to scrutinizing the leases and making sure that FWP is treated in accordance with North Dakota law and entitled to everything we can possibly get from these leases,” Schenk said.

The commission must still approve the final sale in its Dec. 10 meeting.

Kamp wanted proceeds from the leases to be dedicated to FWP’s Hooked-On-Fishing Program in Region 1.

Started in 1994, the Region 1 program allows 1,400 kids in 35 schools get out to experience the joy of fishing by providing fishing equipment for students, training and curriculum for teachers and in-class assistance by FWP and volunteer instructors, Region 1 spokesman John Fraley told the FWP commission.

Fraley said Kamps set aside some other money to build a fishing pier on Pine Grove Pond in Kalispell.

“He didn’t have a lot of family members, but he put a lot of effort into kids and kids’ activities,” Fraley said. “We are going to acknowledge his contributions when we do the fishing piers on Pine Grove Pond.”

Kamps shared his love for the outdoors with anyone who walked through the door of the Sportsman and Ski Haus where he worked for 23 years until May 2008.

Kamps’ influence spread beyond the Kalispell city limits as he penned numerous sporting articles for various publications, but he was best known for his weekly newspaper column, “Bill Says.”