Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today joined Senator Kevin Cramer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Aurelia Skipwith and local landowners and producers to discuss FWS guidance released earlier this year, which clarified pre-1976 wetlands easement boundaries and provided a process to appeal wetlands maps.
The agency finalized the guidance in March, after Hoeven and Cramer hosted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in North Dakota last year to highlight the need for due process and regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers impacted by FWS wetlands easements. Today’s discussion provided an opportunity to review the implementation of the appeals process and gather feedback for the administration directly from North Dakota stakeholders.
“Regulatory relief has been one of our top priorities with the current administration, and establishing this appeals process for FWS wetlands easements was an important step in providing certainty to landowners and agriculture producers,” said Hoeven. “I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this new appeals process with Director Skipwith right here in North Dakota to ensure it works for our state’s farmers and ranchers, preventing unnecessary barriers to how they use their land while also ensuring good environmental stewardship.”
During the previous meeting with Bernhardt, Hoeven outlined the differences between the wetlands regulations at FWS compared to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), under which Hoeven worked to protect private property rights and provide relief in the 2018 Farm Bill.