McKenzie County Officials Push for Temporary Housing Permits

When the Bakken oil boom began, thousands of people moved to Williston, Watford City and other small communities near the epicenter of the boom in North Dakota to take advantage of high-paying oilfield jobs. However, after existing housing infrastructure quickly filled up in these areas, various points on the unregulated North Dakotan prairie became home to thousands as oilfield camps and other temporary housing started to pop up. With the highest concentration of drilling activity, McKenzie County, ND, faced a big problem: how was it going to keep track of all these people? The solution came when local officials passed ordinances requiring mancamps, temporary housing complexes for oilfield workers, and RV parks obtain permits and addresses. Despite seeming like a nuisance to some locals opposed to the ordinances, the new requirements proved to very helpful for local law enforcement when an EF-2 tornado destroyed an oilfield camp south of Watford City in late May of 2014. Ultimately, the new requirements helped emergency crews pinpoint the oilfield camp's exact location after the tornado struck.

Read more: Bakken Tornado Injures Nine in Watford City, ND - Video

With continued demand for workers in North Dakota, and no end to the Bakken boom in sight for the immediate future, the lack of permanent housing is likely to continue. The counties with the highest concentration of licensed recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds in the state are in McKenzie, Mountrail, and Williams. As of this writing, the current active rig count in these counties is 62, 32, and 31 respectively.