BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota commission has selected a consulting firm to conduct a review of a 1950s federal survey in an effort to clarify mineral ownership under the Missouri River.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission selected Wenck Associates Tuesday to examine the survey of the river’s channel as it existed before the construction of the Garrison Dam, The Bismarck Tribune ( ) reported.

Lawmakers approved $800,000 for the study in a bill seeking to resolve disputes over how minerals are leased.

The commission, which consists of Gov. Doug Burgum, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, has authorized the Department of Mineral Resources to start contract negotiations.

Wenck was one of two firms that submitted proposals for the study.

The Legislature disqualified engineering and survey firms that have previously conducted Missouri riverbed surveys for a state agency or have participated in litigation related to the Missouri riverbed minerals.

Director Lynn Helms said while he would’ve liked to have more applicants, both firms were qualified and had no conflicts of interest.

The firm is expected to begin working no later than Sept. 1 and finish by February unless the commission extends its timeline.

The findings of the review are scheduled to be published in March with a public comment and hearing process set for the spring.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune,