Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Ensure U.S. Forest Service is a Good Neighbor to Ranchers

Senator Meets with McKenzie County Grazing Association, Working to Maintain Equitable Access to National Grasslands

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met with members of the McKenzie County Grazing Association, where he outlined his efforts to ensure the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) acts as a good neighbor to local ranchers and maintains equitable access for grazers to the National Grasslands. In particular, Hoeven discussed proposed changes to the USFS rangeland directives.

Last year, the senator led the North Dakota delegation in pressing the USFS Chief to extend the public comment period for the proposed directives, stressing the broad presence of federal land in North Dakota and its impact on the state’s ranchers. In response, the agency agreed to extend the comment deadline, giving livestock producers and grazing groups the necessary time to review the changes and provide thorough feedback to the agency. Hoeven continues working to ensure the USFS works with local stakeholders and that any new rangeland directives are made in consultation with grazers. To this end, the senator also secured a commitment from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Homer Wilkes, who oversees the USFS, to visit North Dakota and to work collaboratively with grazers and local stakeholders.

“We’re working to ensure the USFS maintains fair and equitable treatment for our ranchers, because they know this land best and have long been good stewards of our natural resources,” said Hoeven. “That means consulting with grazers, taking their input and relying on their expertise for any changes to the rangeland practices. The vast amount of federal land in North Dakota presents real challenges for many industries in our state, including our ranchers, and it is essential that the USFS and other federal agencies act as good neighbors.”

North Dakota is home to 1.1 million acres of national grasslands, representing nearly one third of total grassland acres managed by the Forest Service. The rangeland management directives are the primary source of administrative direction to Forest Service employees regarding the rangeland management program.