BISMARCK, N.D. — Construction may be delayed until next year at a historic site near Bismarck due to the process needed to obtain a federal permit to alleviate erosion of native burial grounds.

Officials had hoped to begin the project at the Double Ditch Indian Village State Historic Site later this year. Sixteen burial areas already have been moved.

Fern Swenson, director of archaeology and historic preservation with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, told The Bismarck Tribune ( ) that a delay would allow for more erosion of the site.

“We’d be very concerned if construction doesn’t start this fall,” Swenson said.

Flooding in 2011 caused ground erosion at the site, causing buried remains of Native Americans to become exposed. Once the river flow ate away at the base of the shoreline, weight of the topsoil began causing further instability and slumping.

In 2015, the state Legislature set aside $3.5 million for a proposed fix to protect an area that stretches about 1,900 feet along the river.

Toni Erhardt with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said more than 20 comments from the public, various agencies and stakeholders were received during a 30-day period that ended Sept. 15.

Swenson said she expects a public hearing on the issue to be held soon, and may include whether the proposed solution will impact other sites downstream.

A conservative number of possible human burials at the site is 10,000 individuals, according to the State Historical Society.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune,