North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

About seven months ago I reported that a group of Minnesota partners were planning an indoor RV park to house North Dakota oilfield workers five miles south of Watford City, North Dakota.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

When initially proposed, the idea prompted mixed reactions.

“So many people thought we were crazy,” Louis Bonneville of Carlton, Minnesota, one of the park’s owners, told the Forum News Service.

But for workers like John Coffer, who spent North Dakota winter months in his RV and once got stuck inside when the door froze, the option to move his camper indoors was a pleasant change.

“It’s nice to step out of your RV and not step into a pile of snow,” said Coffer, a natural gas plant operator.

The North Dakota Indoor RV Park recently expanded and the owners have turned down offers to replicate the concept elsewhere, said Bonneville, the park’s managing partner.

The park consists of 10 insulated and climate-controlled buildings which house 24 RVs in each building. Each building consists of eight bays, with three RV pads per bay, three overhead doors, and two service entry doors. All doors are locked for the security of the tenants.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

Each tenant has two parking spaces with electrical hookups in front of their overhead door.
The buildings are sectioned into eight bays for fire protection, carbon monoxide and smoke detection, climate control, air exchanger ventilation, safety, and security. The interior walls and ceiling of the buildings are insulated for the year around comfort of the tenants.

Each bay is heated with a hanging electric heater. The insulated buildings remain cool in the summer, and the ventilation allows tenants to operate their RV air conditioner. The bays are lit with halogen lighting.

Standard water, sewer, electric, and gas hookups are available for each pad. An exhaust pipe is connected to the RV sewer vent. Utilities are all inclusive in the monthly rent. Phone and cable TV are available to each pad at tenant’s expense.

There is a commons building with outdoor patio and grilling area. Within the commons building there is a drop off/pick up laundry service, common gathering room with couches, recliners, flat screen TVs, vending machines, restrooms, management office, and on-site manager’s apartments.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

The ND Indoor RV Park concept is the only indoor RV Park in North Dakota and is approved by the ND Department of Health.

Eight of the buildings have been full for the past three months and two that were recently built to accommodate 41-foot RVs “are pretty much spoken for,” Bonneville told the Forum News Service.

The park did see some tenants leave during the summer, but some who tried to return as cold temperatures set in discovered that the park was full and they couldn’t get back in, Bonneville said.

Owners anticipate that next summer the facility will stay full so tenants don’t lose their spots. In addition, the park recently added 70 outdoor spots that will serve as a “holding area” while tenants are on a waiting list, Bonneville said.

The indoor park will save people the expense of insulating their campers and it will extend the life of their RV by protecting it from the elements, Bonneville said.

The park also does background checks on tenants and the buildings provide extra security.

Only fifth wheel and travel trailers are allowed in the RV Park. No motorhomes or campers are allowed per ND State code.

The RV Park can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length, and 12 feet 6 inches in height.

The ND Indoor RV Park is secluded from the traffic of Highway 85. We encourage everyone to stop by and see our site for themselves! You won’t be disappointed!

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

Details

North Dakota Indoor RV Park

Lease Rates: May-October, $1,000-$1,200/month; November-April, $1,250-$1,450/month; outdoor sites, $900/month

Location: 5 miles south of Watford City; ½ mile east of Highway 85, with easy access via County Road 37.

Address: 2052 125th Ave NW, Watford City, ND 58854

Phone: (701) 260-3668

Website: ndindoorrvpark.com

Worth Pondering…

Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

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Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

10. Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan

Photographers do a wonderful job at capturing the beauty of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. (Credit: fws.gov/Dawn Kopp)
Photographers do a wonderful job at capturing the beauty of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. (Credit: fws.gov/Dawn Kopp)

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

The refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

A seven-mile ride along Marshland Wildlife Drive leads past wetlands and open water and through deciduous and coniferous forests in the Great Manistique Swamp, an old lumbering area. The road passes three wheelchair-accessible observation decks with viewing scopes.

The tour route is open during daylight hours from May 15 through October 15. The route does not accommodate large recreational vehicles. Bicycles are permitted on the auto tour route.

Wildlife to Observe: Beaver, river otters, bald eagles, osprey, common loons, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, black bear, turtles, and songbirds.

Phone: (906) 586-9851

Website: fws.gov/refuge/seney

9. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota

The diverse habitat types found on Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge—mixed grass prairie, river valley, marshes, sandhills, and woodlands—support an abundant variety of wildlife. (Credit: USFWS/Marlene Welstad)
The diverse habitat types found on Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge—mixed grass prairie, river valley, marshes, sandhills, and woodlands—support an abundant variety of wildlife. (Credit: USFWS/Marlene Welstad)

The 19-mile Refuge Backway follows the gently rolling hills of upland prairie, offering excellent views of the wooded draws of the Des Lacs Valley with great scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. More than 250 species of birds, including waterfowl, raptors, and many other migrants, have been seen there, along with deer, moose, and other mammals.

Also along the Backway is the trailhead for Munch’s Coulee National Recreation Trail, a mile-long loop with a universally accessible section; the trail provides panoramic views and opportunities to see wildlife close-up.

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge was officially named one of America’s top 500 Globally Important Bird Areas (IBA) by the national non-profit organization, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), in recognition of its significance in the ongoing effort to conserve wild birds and their habitats.

Wildlife to see: Mergansers and snow geese in the spring and fall, several species of grebes in summer, as well as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and moose.

Phone: (701) 385-4046

Website: fws.gov/jclarksalyer/deslacs

Details

National Wildlife Refuge System

The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp. Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. (Credit: fws.gov)
The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp. Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. (Credit: fws.gov)

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska.

National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges.

Each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping stones while they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.

The Refuge System is a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of the Interior.

Phone: (800) 344-WILD (9453)

Website: fws.gov/refuges

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 2: Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

Part 3: Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

Part 4: Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Worth Pondering…

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Eagle

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Redevelop RV Park for Bakken Shale Boom

Bakken Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment firm focused on investing in the greater Williston Basin Area of North Dakota, announces the successful acquisition and redevelopment of the Lincoln RV Park.

Looked over by Abraham Lincoln, our RV park offers great access to Williston, Watford City and everything in between. We provide a safe, comfortable park, perfect for workers and families.
Looked over by Abraham Lincoln, our RV park offers great access to Williston, Watford City and everything in between. We provide a safe, comfortable park, perfect for workers and families.

Located on Highway 85 near city centers such as Williston and Watford City, the 26-acre park can accommodate individuals, families, and large companies up to 200 people. In addition to RVs, the park will rent out cabins and allow truck parking with or without hookups, according to a news release.

The park is looked over by a 20-foot tall sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, which was designed by Texas-based artist David Adickes and recently relocated from an outdoor museum that was closing.

“The oil and gas boom in the Bakken region has led to rising demand for housing and various types of infrastructure, ranging from retail shops to apartments and storage facilities,” said Ken Hartog, founder and managing member of Bakken Real Estate Partners.

“With oil production expected to remain at high levels over the next 20 years, the opportunity for real estate investment in this region is enormous, and we intend to take advantage of this for our investors and clients.”

Bakken Formation MapThe Bakken formation, which stretches from western North Dakota through eastern Montana up to Saskatchewan, has become an oil production hotspot due to recent advances in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

The Bakken shale formation is reported by conservative estimates to contain an oil supply that will last about 50 years.

“There may be disagreement over how long the Bakken shale boom will last, but there’s no doubt that the region needs more housing infrastructure,” added Hartog.

“This is a great opportunity for residential real estate investors.”

Details

Bakken Real Estate Partners

Based in Williston, North Dakota, Bakken Real Estate Partners is a real estate investment firm focused on acquiring and developing properties in fast-growing Bakken region and the greater Williston Basin Area.

Their growing portfolio currently includes RV parks, rental housing, single family housing, office, and retail.

Prior to founding the firm, founder and managing member Ken Hartog invested primarily in multi-family, residential, and retail real estate in the greater Los Angeles area.

Website: bakkenrealestatepartners.com

Lincoln RV Park

Lincoln RV Park is located right on Highway 85, about 6 miles south of the intersection of 2 and 85

Phone: (701) 428-1343

Website: lincolnrvpark.com

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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Winterizing an RV for a Northern Winter

When it comes to a northern winter and surviving its sub-zero temperatures, few things could be as tricky to prepare for as living in a recreational vehicle.

Well it’s that time of year again. (Source: arbogastrvs.com)

At a recent event organized at the Williston (North Dakota) Village RV Resort, Mark Petterson from Coates RV offered suggestions on ways to survive in cold temperatures.

Pettersen reviewed a list of the most important ways to ensure that an RV is ready for an onslaught of winter weather but said that skirting and safeguarding against potential hazards are the most important things to remember, reports Williston Herald.

He said there is a lot to remember, especially when it comes to blocking vents, which could asphyxiate anyone inside the camper.

“You want to make sure what you do is not something that you heard from somebody else that’s going to endanger your life,” Pettersen said.

Skirting can be done fairly easily with a kit and must be done well to ensure energy efficiency, he said.

Also key is making sure to choose the right RV Park so that nothing freezes up in the winter, Pettersen said.

Pettersen provided a complete list of tips to the audience gathered under a tent at the new RV park.

The joys of living in a northern climate (Source: hilltopicswithsteve.com)

“Many easily accomplished things can be done that will have a significant accumulative effect on your comfort and safety and will dramatically increase your energy efficiency,” according to the guide.

Beginning with skirting and insulation, energy savings can be dramatic. The trickiest thing is if the trailer has a slide-out that must be particularly well insulated, Pettersen said.

Other tips included never bringing an LP tank into the trailer for safety, having an internally heated hose and exposing the thermostat to the ambient temperature, positioning the RV as close as possible to the sewer connection and using heat tape to keep the connection warm enough, having a fully charged battery and using insulated styrofoam panels on the inside of storage compartments and at hatches, according to the guide.

“If you have something that worked last year, don’t necessarily change it,” Pettersen said.

“Although we didn’t have winter last year,” he joked.

For safety reasons, though, an RV owner should be careful to never restrict venting to the furnace, fridge or water heater, Pettersen said.

“That could be deadly,” he said.

“You have to know what you can do and what you can’t do.”

Inside of the RV, residents should be cautious not to use an unlimited number of heaters and other appliances into outlets, which could overload the service, the guide said.

Condensation and resulting mold is also something to be careful of, in the bathroom area especially, Williston Herald reports.

RV residents also should be aware that RV fridges were never designed for freezing temperatures. He said his advice is to replace a fridge hesitantly as in many cases, a new fridge will not fix the problem, he said.

“Don’t let somebody talk you in winter into a new refrigerator,” he said.

Foam board insulating skirting (Source: homeiswherethe5thwheelis.blogspot.com)

The most important thing once again, Pettersen said, is to ensure that venting to a gas fridge is not obstructed.

Vern Haugen, developer of the Williston Village RV Resort, said the workshop aimed at helping make the public aware of ways they can be prepared for winter and said at the new park he has allowed extra space for RVs and aims to do things right.

“We’re trying to keep this thing really nice,” he said.

Attendee Sue Hughes, who said she returned to the Williston area a year ago and lives in an RV outside of town, said she appreciated the tips and hopes for another mild winter.

“It wasn’t winter,” she said of last year. “I hope we’re fortunate.”

Chris and Debbi Shafer said they are also living in an RV in another location and are weighing the option of moving before winter. They said they will take away several points to apply to their RV

“It was actually very informative,” Debbi Shafer said, adding that she hopes she can be ready for what comes.

“I hope I won’t make his life too miserable,” she said with a smile.

Worth Pondering…

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

—Alfred Wainwright

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Oilfield Workers Buy Up Bakken Tough Trailers

Camps for Bakken oilfield workers in North Dakota and Montana are dotted with fifth wheel trailers shielded with foam-board insulation and skirting and whatever else workers can muster to keep water pipes and waste tanks from freezing and to lower heating costs.

Dustin Bretz is shown with a super-insulated 34-foot work crew housing unit at Tour America RV Center. Many of the dealership’s RVs are headed to the Bakken oil field where the boom in jobs has created a severe housing shortage. (Source: Larry Mayer/Billings Gazette)

When Bakken oilfield workers come calling Dustin Bretz, salesman at Tour America RV Center in Billings, Montana, knows standard RVs aren’t going to cut it.

There’s camping rough and then there’s Bakken rough, living full time through the winter on the frozen prairie of North Dakota and Montana, where more than a few days of arctic weather are normal, Bretz told The Billings Gazette.

“Winter time can run as cold as 30 below zero, and a lot of RVs aren’t made for that.”

So Tour America started looking for one that could handle these harsh winter conditions and came up with a Camp Lodge, Work and Play fifth wheel custom built for the Bakken environment.

“These go relatively quickly,” Bretz said.

“It has 2 to 3 inches of spray foam on the lower chasse, heated water lines, and holding tanks. They have dual-pane windows, like your house. This is a niche product.”

In this July, 2011 photo, a man walks back to his temporary housing unit in a man camp outside of Williston, N.D. Many oilfield workers say sharing an RV beats living in a man camp any day. And, some of the oilfield work is done far from the nearest man camp, making super-insulated RVs or other manufactured housing a preferred choice. (Source: AP)

Bretz has the rugged trailers, which retail for about $34,000, parked north of his main lot in full view of eastbound Interstate 90, where semis loaded with drilling equipment and bentonite are streaming to the oil patch. His show-pony RVs are in Tour America’s corral, not so easily spotted from the freeway.

Housing of all kinds is scarce in the Bakken oilfield, where high-paying jobs have lured thousands of transient workers. Real homes are hard to come by, but so are campers and trailers. The running joke is that the oilfield holds the record for homeless people with $100,000 incomes. At a western North Dakota housing summit last spring, developers identified the need for 5,000 homes over the next two years.

That insatiable demand for housing of all kinds has become good business for Billings companies with products ready to sell. Pierce Homes now markets a modular model named for the Bakken and built by Commodore Homes. At Canadian-American Structured Solutions Inc. (CASS), the demand for oilfield housing drives a significant portion of the recently created company’s business.

“I would say the fallout from the Williston area is 25 percent of our business,” said Larry Nelson, CASS investor and CFO.

CASS, which set up shop in Billings only a few months ago, shipped a four-plex to Powers Lake, North Dakota, and created duplexes bound for Regina, Saskatchewan. The company has an apartment house building in Glendive and multiple accounts from Baker to Williston.

CASS builds its products to suit the building codes for permanent structures in whatever community to which its buildings are headed.

Bakken Reservoir fields in Williston Basin

Even businesses that don’t normally target the Bakken market are picking up customers, reports The Billings Gazette.

“We say we don’t sell single-wides, but we sell a bunch of these little cabins that are right around the $60,000 mark, the cost of a nice, fifth-wheel trailer,” said Jeff Lee, of American Homes.

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August. Not all of the buildings were Bakken bound, but he expects more will be sold into the oilfield in the future.

American sells a hunting cabin that’s a super-super insulated single-wide modular home with 6-inch walls and homelike features.

“This really is just a souped up single wide, but it has a good look and feel, laminate floors, residential doors and windows and furnaces.”

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August.

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 18

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. RV Trip Wizard Available

RV Trip Wizard sample

RV Trip Wizard is a visual planning tool designed for RVers by RVers. Introduced at several Florida RV shows, it has received strong interest from a wide variety of RV owners, the developer announced.

Richard Hill, a partner in the company and long time RVer said, “A few years ago my wife and I made a 7,200 mile trip around the USA. It took us about two and one half weeks to do all the planning. That same trip can be planned in about 30 minutes using RV Trip Wizard.”

The wizard is accessible from all PCs, MACs, tablet computers, and smart phones. There is no software to buy, maintain, or update. A subscription includes a 15-day free trial and is available at rvtripwizard.com.

2. Outwell Offers Pack ‘n’ Go for RVers

Outwell Wayfarer 65 Jet Black Pack N Go Storage Bag

Bourne, UK-based camping brand Outwell has developed a range of storage solutions, the Pack ‘n’ Go collection, aimed at RV owners and campers, reports Out & About Live.

The Pack ’n’ Go collection replaces the storage boxes, grips, carrier bags, and other containers that are traditionally filled with camping gear ready for the big trip.

Using feedback from campers, the Outwell Research and Development team created the Pack ’n’ Go collection’s four ranges to address packing and storage problems associated with various outdoor scenarios:

  • Break Away collection of versatile multi-purpose storage bags
  • Day Away collection of Drift daypacks bags, Stash shoulder bags, and Coral and Coast beach/shopping bags
  • Safe Away collection of personal storage and travel safety items that range from wash bags to neck pillows
  • Cook Away collection of practical kitchen storage, coolbag, and water carrying products

For more information visit outwell.com.

3. Forest River’s Starcraft Bus Earns Ford Honor

Goshen, Indiana-based Starcraft Bus, a division of Forest River Inc., has been named Ford’s top volume pool account for the sixth consecutive year.

According to a news release, the manufacturer has purchased and sold more Ford E350/E450 bus chassis than any other bus maker in the United States.

“We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Ford as we move forward into the next decade,” said Starcraft Bus President David Wright.

Starcraft Bus services many markets, including hotels, churches, retirement centers, tour operators, and all aspects of public and private transportation. In addition to Ford, it also builds on GM and International chassis.

4. Oil Boom County Lifts RV Park Moratorium

Dunn County in western North Dakota will lift its crew camp moratorium June 1.

The Board of County Commissioners decided on Wednesday (May 16) that it will also ask the planning and zoning committee to set parameters on the number of beds and locations if different from what is stated in the zoning ordinance, The Dickinson Press reported.

“We need a place for these people to stay,” said Commissioner Tim Steffan. “If there is no place for these people to stay, they’re going to stay in all of these other places, but I think we need restrictions on them. Zero tolerance.”

Over the past year, Dunn County commissioners approved construction of six crew camps. Camps housing more than 1,000 oil workers are already in operation in Killdeer and Manning, small communities located north of Dickinson.

5. How to Locate a Dump Station?

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, spending the night at Wal-Mart or a truck stop or the weekend at a public recreation area without dumping facilities, or trying to get on the road quickly without taking the time to use the campground dump station.

Also affected are RVers that work on the road, tailgate at college and pro football games, NASCA races, agricultural fairs and exhibitions, dog shows, and other local and national events.

Finding an RV dump station along your route, near your destination, or in your home town can be a major challenge.

Click here to continue reading.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m planning on suspending this Friday feature at the end of May with next Friday, May 25 being the finale. If you wish to weigh in please leave your comment on my Facebook page.

Worth Pondering…

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would rather not.

—Thomas Jefferson

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Indoor RV Park Opening Soon

A family joke about living in an RV parked in a pole barn has led a Minnesota contractor to come up with a new housing solution for the Bakken Oil Patch: an indoor RV park.

Indoor RV park

Chad Lekander of Mahtowa, Minnesota, said he was researching possible business opportunities in North Dakota when he remembered his uncle’s idea to put an RV indoors, The Dickinson Press reports.

Now Lekander has formed B&H Construction Companies with partner Louie Bonneville to construct an RV park about five miles south of Watford City.

The park will consist of 10 buildings to accommodate 240 RVs and will be managed by NETA Property Management of Fargo.

The goal is to provide a safer, more comfortable housing option for oil boom workers who are forced to live in campers because of the housing shortage, said Bill Triebwasser, president NETA Property Management.

“It’s basically care-free RV living,” said Triebwasser, whose company manages 500 apartment units in North Dakota and Minnesota.

The first 48 units will be available July 1, with another 48 opening every month after that, Triebwasser said.

Kenan Bullinger, director of the food and lodging division for the North Dakota Department of Health, said this is the first such project in the state.

“I think it’s a great concept,” Bullinger said.

The developers had to work out some safety issues before the health department approved it, Bullinger said.

The buildings will have drywall partitions inside to prevent fire from spreading. Each building will house 24 campers with each building separated into eight bays.

Each camper will have water and sewer hookups, and the building will have adequate ventilation, Triebwasser said.

The park also will have laundry facilities and a common gathering room.

“We’re trying to provide a healthy, safe environment,” Triebwasser said.

If the project is successful, the partners will look to build indoor RV parks in other areas, Triebwasser said.

Concerns about health and safety of living in RVs year-round have prompted Williston officials to consider banning them from yards, driveways, and other areas within the city that are not part of an RV park.

Map of Williston Basin with Bakken and Three Forks Formations. (Source: EPRINC)

The developers haven’t finalized the rental price, but say it’s going to be less expensive than an apartment in western North Dakota and comparable to outdoor RV parks in the area. Tenants would have to sign 12-month leases.

“We’re not trying to gouge,” Triebwasser said. “We’re trying to offer something that’s obtainable and make people a little more at ease about the living situation.”

Lekander said he started researching opportunities in North Dakota after hearing about the oil development.

“We live in a very stagnant economy right now,” Lekander said of the Mahtowa area, about 30 miles from Duluth, Minnesota.

He and Bonneville will be living in North Dakota during the construction, and some of their family members will help them during the summer.

They are keeping their homes in Minnesota for now, but are looking to make a long-term commitment to working in North Dakota.

“We’re so excited to be part of this,” Lekander said.

When the buildings are no longer needed to house RVs, they would be ideally suited to be storage units, Triebwasser said.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…
Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

Read More

4 RV Parks Pending in Bakken Shale Area of North Dakota

During the first quarter of 2012 nearly $40 million worth of projects were permitted in Williams County, North Dakota—including three RV parks—with a fourth campground being planned in the Bakken (BOKK-en) Industrial Park.

GMX Resources finishes drilling a horizontal well targeting the Three Forks formation in North Dakota. (Source: upstreamonline.com)

Stacks and stacks of paper fill the make-shift office of the Williams County Planning and Zoning Department.

The growing staff recently took over what used to be the Williams County Commission meeting room. The setting is still in the organizational stage—but it gives everyone the room they need to handle the influx of construction projects.

“I am swamped—just like everybody else,” says Jill Edson, Williams County Planning and Zoning Administrator.

While the RV Parks will help ease concern about banning them from parking within the Williston City limits, they won’t be ready anytime soon, reports the Williston Daily Herald.

“The Williams County Commissioners instructed us to fast-track RV park applications,” Edson says.

The current applications will be reviewed in May by the planning and zoning commission. The three pending projects include:

  • A 30-acre park being planned by David Loyens in the Missouri Ridge Commercial Park
  • Bill Sheldon is seeking permission to build a 5-acre project with 38 lots in the Nesson Valley area
  • Kevin Heinen is planning to build a 10-acre RV Park near 60th Street on the west side of US Highway 2

A fourth campground called the Prairie RV Park is being planned in the Bakken Industrial Park—which is located within the Williston city limits.

Bakken/Three Forks Play (Source: investorshub.advfn.com)

Edson says the county expected a lot more interest in RV campgrounds.

Other projects that were permitted during the first quarter of 2012 in Williams County were a Jehovah’s Witness church, a school in Ray, 36 single family homes, six shops, two water depots, eight office buildings, two ready mix plants, six commercial buildings, and two apartment buildings.

Edson says they have seen a lot of residential and commercial projects during the first three months of the year and they expect the pace to continue.

“They all want high density housing, townhomes, and apartments,” she says. “There are a lot of people that really do want to help with the housing shortage.”

Bakken/Three Forks Shale Oil Area

The Bakken and Three Forks are vast, deep rock formations rich in both natural gas and quality crude underlying much of the western third of North Dakota in addition to broad areas of both Montana and Saskatchewan, an area the size of France.

North Dakota’s oil and gas fields have continued to grow and produce as rapidly as labor, materials, housing, transportation, and state permitting allow.

Expansion continues to be fueled by innovative drilling and extracting technologies, demand, and favorable crude prices.

Explorers have targeted the Bakken system for oil and gas for many years.

Three‐Dimensional Geologic Model of Northwestern North Dakota. The Bakken lies at a depth of around 11,500 feet with the additional need for rigs to drill 20,000 feet coming from the use of horizontal drilling along the formation, which is typically only around 150 feet thick. (Source: dmr.nd.gov)

The contemporary Bakken story began in Montana in 2000, when horizontal drilling started to open up the shale oil play.

In 2006, discovery of the Parshall Field in Mountrail County, North Dakota, created a second front of intense drilling activity.

Both the Bakken and the Three Forks have long been known as productive oil targets, but with mostly hit-and-miss economics—until the advent of a new approach to unconventional reservoirs.

It took long-lateral drilling and multi-stage fracks to tap the full potential of shale-oil production, first in the Bakken Shale, now in the Three Forks.

The Three Forks is some of the oldest production in the Williston Basin—it goes back to the 1950s. It has taken 50 years for the technology to catch up with this reservoir.

Current thinking puts recoverable oil from the Bakken Shale at just over two billion barrels, and from the Three Forks Formation at just under two billion.

Related Story

Worth Pondering…
WORRYING does not take away tomorrow’s TROUBLES; it takes away today’s PEACE.

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North Dakota Walmart Evicts RVs

The Walmart in Williston, North Dakota, is saying “enough is enough.”

Williston Walmart evicts RVs. (Source: kmot.com)

After months of allowing oil workers to park their recreational vehicles in the parking lot, the big box store started getting tough this week. The store posted notices Monday (February 6) that any campers not gone within 24 hours would be towed and impounded at the owners’ expense.

The bright yellow notices said the camping was causing safety, noise, litter, and property problems and would no longer be tolerated.

According to Walmart spokeswoman, Kayla Whaling, some RVs were towed Tuesday morning, the Williston Herald reported.

Whaling said the store sympathizes with the workers, who are facing a housing shortage, but said the situation reached a turning point based on complaints from the community.

“It’s just not appropriate for people to be living in our parking lot. We want to be good neighbors during challenging times,” she said. On the other hand, Walmart needs to provide safe, clean, and comfortable shopping for its customers and environment for its own employees, she said.

Whaling added that the store was teaming up with the Williston Police Department to get the vehicles removed and impounded.

Signs like this one were posted at the Williston Walmart on Monday. (Source: bismarcktribune.com)

Oil workers were allowed to use the lot due to a local housing shortage, but complaints from the community led to the eviction.

Dozens and sometimes more campers filled the lot for weeks or months before moving on, even though there were no water or sewer hookups. Some were living four or more to a small trailer without heat or electricity.

Women expressed fear of walking through the parking lot with the men living there and others said they simply quit shopping at the store because of the situation.

The Walmart parking lot in Williston, and the many people that have lived there during the past three years, have been featured in the New York Times, CNN, YouTube, NBC, and countless other regional, national and even international media organizations.

The parking lot has been called a “mecca” for job seekers and Williston’s “pioneer square,” and has become notorious by longtime locals and newcomers alike, the Williston Herald reported.

For many who have come to Williston seeking a new job and a new life during the past few years, it is one of the first places they go—with an RV in tow.

No more.

A section of the parking lot used to look like a trailer park. Every long-term trailer has been removed.

The parking lot has been the site of a continuing conflict of trailer owners moving in, being ticketed, and ordered off by law enforcement, sometimes moving out, and others moving in a constant ebb and flow.

The Williston Walmart has not allowed trailers to park overnight for some time. During the past year, store officials have routinely called police to come and ticket and tell those in the RVs to leave.

By the next day, however, a new group arrives, and the process begins anew.

At least, it used to.

This January 26 photo shows the Williston Walmart parking lot (Source: bismarcktribune.com)

Walmart has also hired a parking lot security guard, who was patrolling the lot Wednesday in a small SUV. The security guard wouldn’t answer any questions about his job or the removal of the trailers, but his presence seemed to coincide with the lack of campers, reported the Williston Herald.

“All I can tell you is I can’t say anything and you’ll have to talk to a manager,” he said.

Last year, the store installed height-restriction barriers on the entrances to the parking lot to prevent semitrailers from parking there. Until then, the store had been troubled with dozens of oil trucks and other 18-wheelers using the parking lot nearly every day.

Walmart has a reputation for allowing people on the move to pull off the highway for an overnight stay. In Williston, where housing is tight because of the booming energy fields, those overnights in some cases are turning into however long people can get away with staying there until they’re told to move along.

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Worth Pondering…
Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
—Tom Stoppard

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: November 18

This is Post Number 500!

This is an anniversary of sorts. I have been posting articles on the RVing Lifestyle since August 2010. I started not knowing if RVers and wannabes would read my articles.

Now 400 to 1,000 read my entries each day—and I truly appreciate it!

This is my 500th posting!

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Minnesota Investigates RVers Evading Sales Tax

The Minnesota Department of Revenue said Wednesday (November 16) in a news release it is investigating 270 cases in which Minnesotans may have set up shell companies to evade paying sales tax on luxury recreational vehicles. It has closed 22 other cases since October 2010, collecting $230,000 in sales taxes, penalties, and fines.

The department said in most cases, the Minnesota residents set up shell limited liability corporations in Montana, which does not charge sales tax. The Minnesotans buy the RVs through the Montana corporations and register the vehicles in that state, yet the RVs are kept in Minnesota.

The state said the high-end RVs cost between $150,000 to more than $1 million.

Minnesota has a 6.5% sales tax, which translates into $9,750 for a $150,000 RV and $65,000 for a $1 million RV.

2. Pilot Flying J Acquires North Dakota Travel Center

Pilot Flying J recently acquired a travel center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and will remodel the Pilot Travel Center to feature full amenities for professional drivers and the motoring public. The travel center is located at Exit 12 off Interstate 29, and the remodeling is expected to be complete for a grand opening in mid-January 2012.

CSP Daily News reported Wednesday (November 16) the 10,310-square-foot travel center will feature four fuel islands and four diesel islands along with a restaurant and a wide variety of convenience items.

Pilot Flying J plans to add four additional diesel islands and two RV fuel islands by the spring of 2012 after opening to the public. The facility will feature high-speed fuel pumps that provide faster flow so customers can refuel quickly.

3. Go RVing Canada Release Industry Results

RVing remains a popular travel option for Canadian families, who are discovering the fun, flexibility, and affordability that the RV lifestyle provides, according to a Go RVing Canada news release issued yesterday (November 17).

With a strong rebound in demand in July and August, total revenues in the RV industry now stand at just over $2.3 billion dollars, bringing it close to the equivalent sales period in 2010.

“This is wonderful news for the RV industry,” said Go RVing Canada Spokesperson Angèle Lapointe. “Much of the sales rebound in this year’s third quarter can be attributed to strong demand brought about by the continued affordability of RVs in Canada. This has come largely as a result of our strong currency.”

Depending on the RV model, a typical family RV vacation can be up to 75% less expensive per day than other forms of vacation travel. According to a cost-comparison study conducted by PKF Consulting, an RV trip is shown to be more economical when compared to a traditional week’s vacation for a family of four, when the costs of flights, car rental, hotels and eating out at restaurants are considered.

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park See Decline in Visitation

Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park fell 9.5 percent in October from the same month in 2010 and year-to-date visits are off more than a half-million, according to an Associated Press report.

The National Park Service said there were 1,133,520 visitors last month, compared with 1,252,357 in October 2010. October is one of the stronger months for park visitation because tourists come to see the autumn foliage.

All entrances to the park showed declines last month.

For the first 10 months of 2011, there were 7,931,484 visitors to the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. That was 6.7 percent fewer than at the same time last year—a drop of 568,330 people.

The Smokies remains America’s most-visited national park.

5. Idaho RV Park Explosion Caused by Propane Leak

Fire officials are trying to determine the cause of an explosion at the Boise-Meridian RV Resort near the Meridian Street/Franklin Road intersection in Meridian early yesterday (November 17), which sent one man to University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the Meridian police were first to arrive on the scene and found a man semi-conscious lying next to a burning trailer. He was moved away from the fire and eventually flown to the burn center.

Fire officials know that a propane leak is what caused the explosion in the trailer but are still not sure how that gas was ignited, Deputy Fire Chief Perry Palmer said.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.

—Norman Vincent Peale

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