BISMARCK, ND (AP) – The head of the agency that manages land rights to some of North Dakota’s largest industries resigned less than five months after starting his second term, the governor’s office said on Tuesday.
Department of Trust Lands commissioner Jodi Smith resigns on October 28. She was appointed by the State Board of University and School Lands, known as the Land Board, in 2017 and was reappointed for a second term in June.
The Land Department leases grazing rights and the rights to produce oil, coal, and gravel from state land. It manages several state trust funds, including the Common Schools Trust Fund which benefits public schools.
It’s unclear why Smith decided to take an early exit. She said in a statement that she would remember her time as a commissioner with “great affection” and offered to act as a consultant after her resignation.
“I am exceptionally proud of our accomplishments, proud of my team for their tireless dedication and look forward to taking the next steps in my own career after these important accomplishments,” she said.
The Land Board has been criticized by the oil and gas industry for trying to collect unpaid royalties. This led to a law passed earlier this year that limits the amount of interest companies must pay on unpaid oil and gas royalties and sets a statute of limitations on when they must pay.
At the Land Council meeting when Smith was confirmed for a second term, some members complained about the way the issue was presented publicly and asked Smith to develop a media policy outlining guidelines for interacting with journalists.
The five-member land council includes Governor Doug Burgum as President and Principal of Kirsten Baesler Schools, Treasurer Thomas Beadle, Secretary of State Al Jaeger and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem as members.
Announcing his resignation, Burgum said under Smith, the agency modernized its technology, increased its assets under management by $ 3 billion and increased its managed oil and gas leases by more than 1,500.
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