Hoeven: Dakota Prairie Grasslands Demonstration Project Extended for Ten Years

Senator Working with Grazing Associations, Forest Service to Implement Agreement for Improving Project

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has extended the Dakota Prairie Grasslands Demonstration Project for an additional ten years and agreed to a framework for improving the project. Hoeven’s office has been working with local grazing associations, North Dakota State Agriculture Department and the USFS’s Dakota Prairie Grassland Supervisor Bill O’Donnell to reach an agreement to ensure grazers have flexibility and are treated fairly in using the grasslands. 

“Our ranchers are good stewards of the land and have been for generations because their livelihood depends on it,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate the Forest Service agreeing to extend the grasslands demonstration project and work with our grazers to make improvements. We’ll continue working to ensure that our ranchers have the flexibility they need for grazing, while also maintaining the health of our grasslands now and into the future.”

Keith Winter, President of the McKenzie County Grazing Association, speaking on behalf of the grazing associations within the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, said “We all appreciate the efforts of Senator Hoeven in getting us to this point with the Demonstration Project, by bringing Chief Tidwell to North Dakota to hear our concerns and by the work he did in facilitating the process.  We look forward to working with Senator Hoeven, the Forest Service and the North Dakota Ag Department to make additional positive modifications and improvements to the Demonstration Project language in the weeks ahead.”  

In 2006, then-Governor Hoeven helped negotiate the agreement for the initial demonstration project to provide for grazing in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. That agreement was for 10 years and was renewable with the consent of both the Forest Service and the grazing associations. Over the past several years, Hoeven’s office has been working with the grazing associations to ensure that the Forest Service follows the project in good faith and to extend the demonstration project beyond 2016. 

Hoeven has hosted Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in North Dakota on multiple occasions, where he pressed the chief to address ranchers’ concerns regarding grasslands management practices. The senator brought Tidwell to North Dakota to hear firsthand from area ranchers and leaders about the demonstration project at roundtable meetings in Dickinson. As a member of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, Hoeven also pressed Tidwell to extend the demonstration project during a committee hearing.