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Associated Press, Published January 28 2010

Oil and gas leases sold on 50K acres in MT, ND

BILLINGS, Mont. — The federal government has sold oil and gas leases on more than 50,000 acres of public lands in Montana and North Dakota in an auction that brought the government $8.5 million in bonus bids.

The Jan. 26 sale included 59 parcels in Montana — primarily in Dawson, Garfield and Richland counties — and 16 parcels scattered across multiple counties in western North Dakota.

The lease on one Montana parcel, a 160-acre tract in Fergus County, will not become final until a protest over the sale is resolved.

The Jan. 7 protest asked for the lease to be suspended because it involved land bordering the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. It was filed by a member of Friends of Missouri River Breaks Monument.

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