At a recent landowner roundtable in Hope, N.D., lawmakers urged U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to help advance regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers impacted by wetlands easements under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said key problems include FWS’ perpetual easements, the cost of the appeals process and setback requirements.
“Our farmers and ranchers are the best in the world, and if we want them to be able to continue to compete in the global marketplace, we shouldn’t burden them with uncertainty and unreasonable regulations,” Hoeven said. “The FWS’s perpetual wetlands easements significantly restrict farmers’ operations, while offering them no opportunity to appeal when the agency makes its determinations. This is exactly the kind of overregulation we prevented at Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) when we made reforms to the conservation title in last year’s farm bill. The FWS should follow this example and pursue a more farmer-friendly approach.”
FWS easements are perpetual, transferring upon the sale of the land to the new owners, and the agency provides no administrative appeals process for wetlands determinations, Hoeven said. Rather, landowners are forced to overcome significant legal barriers and go through lengthy and costly civil litigation in order to challenge determinations, which often impose tremendous uncertainty and restrictions on farmers’ operations and carry the risk of criminal charges for noncompliance.
Hoeven also said FWS should reduce setback distances required from its wetlands. FWS setbacks are more than 14 times larger than NRCS setbacks.Source: Office of Sen. John Hoeven, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.