FORTUNA, N.D. — This year’s statewide drought has stalled the full reclamation of a Cold War-era military facility in northwest North Dakota.
The Fortuna Air Force Station’s reclamation process is nearly complete. Dozens of buildings have been demolished, and materials have been recycled and removed.
But full reclamation depends on grass seeding of an inert waste disposal pit, the Bismarck Tribune reported . Seeding in July didn’t take because of the drought. Workers have seeded again and are cleaning up the area.
“The North Dakota Department of Health won’t close the inert land disposal until there’s grass growing back on top of it,” said Seymour Jordan, Divide County state’s attorney.
Full reclamation is expected in 2018, Jordan said.
The base was used as a radar facility during the Cold War, but it was decommissioned and abandoned in 1984. The county acquired the site through expired tax payments.
The only remaining building from the facility is a five-story radar tower, which is now the location of local wireless services. The area is alongside a large highway, and nearly 118 buildings have come to stand on the site since its radar use.
“I think what’s most interesting is how it has just sat there for as long as it has,” said Kayla Rust, who drove by the base every day on her route to school.
The Fortuna Air Force Station didn’t qualify for the National Register of Historic Places due to damage and deterioration, though it will be commemorated locally.
County commissioner Doug Graupe started crafting two large signs about the facility’s history and design for motorists.
“At this point, the history remains in the area’s people and stories, and not the building,” Rust said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com