Agency reverses course on ND port of entry crossing

Agency reverses course on ND port of entry crossing

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WASHINGTON — After United States Customs and Border Protection reversed course on its plan to reduce hours at a port of entry in northern North Dakota, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer and Gov. Doug Burgum both issued statements voicing their pleasure with the decision.

Yet nobody, perhaps, was happier than Peggy Fischer and other residents from the area who rallied in hopes of maintaining the port’s traditional hours of operation.

“Thrilled,” she said. “I’m sure everybody is just absolutely thrilled. The system actually worked this time.”

Earlier in the day, Fischer sent a note to the Grand Forks Herald, in which she wrote "I’m doing the happy dance today!"

The USCBP announced earlier this month a proposal to decrease hours at U.S-Canada crossings in or near the North Dakota communities of Maida, Antler and Carbury. The plan was to cut three hours of operation at Maida, changing from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. to 9 a.m.-7 p.m. The idea, according to the USCBP, is to redirect staff and funds to other, busier, ports that have higher commercial and individual traffic counts.

Friday morning, USCBP announced the Maida hours will not be changed. However, the ports at Antler and Carbury will be reduced. The Carbury port will now close at 7 p.m., and the Antler port will close at 5 p.m.

That’s not good news for the other ports, Cramer said in a release Friday, but the Maida decision should be seen as a victory.

“This is a positive step taken by CBP for the Maida port of entry, and I applaud them for responding to the concerns of residents in the area,” Cramer said. “However, their decision to reduce hours at the Antler and Carbury ports will affect those North Dakota communities, and I urge CBP to work with them to help mitigate the impact.”

Burgum, who last week wrote a letter to USCBP in hopes of keeping the expanded hours, on Friday said he is “grateful that CBP will maintain its current hours at Maida.”

He said the Maida port is vital for residents of Cavalier County and the surrounding area, noting commerce, ties to Canada and ongoing work at developing tourism in the region.

Maida is 17 miles north of Langdon and approximately 130 miles northwest of Grand Forks. If Maida, Antler and Carbury all were forced to close early, it could force a circuitous, multi-mile detour for anyone wishing to cross the border after regular hours. Last week, Fischer said that residents west of the Maida and Langdon areas would be most affected; for some in that region, it’s 90 miles to the St. John port.

The port at Sarles saw its operational hours reduced last year.

At a community meeting last week in Langdon, 65 people attended and voiced their concerns.

Fischer said the region’s tourism industry – including regional camping and the Frostfire Park theater and ski area – would have been negatively affected by the new hours.

“I was kind of hopeful. I figured they would tweak our hours,” Fischer said Friday. “Hopefully, they looked at the fact that targeting four ports was just too much.”

Burgum on Friday said he still has concerns about reducing the hours at Antler and Carbury.

“(The decision) will negatively impact the lives and livelihoods of North Dakotans and Manitobans alike, and we urge the federal government to do everything possible to mitigate and closely monitor those impacts,” he said.

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