Hoeven: Dakota Prairie Grasslands Signs New Ten Year Demonstration Project

Senator Worked with Grazing Associations, Forest Service to Implement Agreement Providing Greater Flexibility for Ranchers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has signed a new ten-year agreement for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands Demonstration Project. Hoeven’s office has been working with local grazing associations, the North Dakota State Agriculture Department and Dakota Prairie Grasslands Supervisor Bill O’Donnell to update and finalize the agreement to provide grazers with greater flexibility when using the grasslands. 

“Our ranchers are good stewards of the land because their livelihoods depend on it,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate the good work of our grazing organizations to reach an agreement with the Forest Service that provides our ranchers with greater flexibility, while also ensuring the health of our grasslands.”

“The work all of us have put into negotiating this new demonstration project agreement has strengthened the partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, Dakota Prairie Grasslands, and the Grazing Associations,” said Grassland Supervisor O’Donnell.       

Keith Winter, President of the McKenzie County Grazing Association, speaking on behalf of the grazing associations within the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, said “The members of the grazing associations in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands appreciate the continued efforts of Senator Hoeven and his staff in encouraging the Forest Service to continue working with us on updating and improving the Demonstration Project language into a more workable document that will continue to promote good stewardship of the grasslands.” 

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. Last August, the USFS extended the agreement and agreed to a framework for improving the project. Hoeven’s office has been working with grazing associations and the USFS to facilitate agreement on this new demonstration project, and has coordinated numerous meetings to keep the process moving forward.

Hoeven has encouraged U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue to work with the grazing associations. Additionally, the senator hosted former 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.