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State land commissioner joining Red River diversion group

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North Dakota Land Commissioner Jodi Smith, facing, meets in June with members of the Land Board at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

FARGO — Departing North Dakota Department of Trust Lands Commissioner Jodi Smith has been hired by the governing group that's managing the Red River diversion project in Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota.

Smith announced Tuesday she was leaving the the Land Department at the end of October, just five months into her second term. She was appointed to the post by the state Board of University and School Lands, known as the Land Board, in 2017.

Smith will serve as director of lands and compliance for the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, a group of local and county leaders. Joel Paulsen, the authority's executive director, said Smith's background in complex land management and “track record of reaching across many constituencies” made her an ideal candidate for the job.

Construction on the 30-mile diversion channel began in 2017 with the goal of completing the project by 2027. Its price tag currently stands at $3.2 billion. The Fargo-Moorhead area has dealt with serious flooding or the threat of high water several times in the last several decades.

Smith has previously held executive positions at Sanford Health Foundation, Precise Transport and Trinity Health Foundation. She earned her bachelor's degree at Pepperdine University and her master's degree at Regis University.

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