Hoeven Pushes for Fair Process for Grasslands Management and Grazing

Senator Follows Up on Meetings with Forestry Chief and Ranchers in ND

WASHINGTON– Senator John Hoeven Thursday again pressed U.S. Forestry Chief Tom Tidwell to use certified mediators whenever possible when working with North Dakota’s grazing associations and individual ranchers to determine management practices for the Little Missouri National Grasslands.  

At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Hoeven urged Chief Tidwell to use input from March meetings in Watford City and Medora with local grazing associations and ranchers to determine management practices for the grasslands, and asked Tidwell to continue working with him and local ranchers to develop a fair process for using certified mediators to reach agreements.  

Chief Tidwell outlined two areas where the skills of certified mediators could be used in Forest Service dealings with grazing association. First, Tidwell suggested using certified mediators to bring people together at the front end of proposed grazing agreement projects or revisions. Second, Tidwell testified that mediator’s skills could be used prior to making any decisions throughout the process that could impact the grasslands.  

“With some of the individual grazers who are anxious to get their contract or leases signed using mediators could really be helpful,” said Hoeven. “I strongly urge you to do that wherever you can.”  

Hoeven commended Chief Tidwell for collaborating with North Dakota grazing experts to evaluate grasslands management and urged him to implement management and grazing agreements using the state’s research.    

Tidwell acknowledged disagreement with the grazing associations over which portions of the grasslands have the potential to support grasses tall enough for wildlife. However, since the March meetings in North Dakota, Tidwell committed to conduct a study in collaboration with NDSU range specialists to determine what is necessary for grasslands wildlife.  Hoeven encouraged using the state studies to build confidence with the local grazers when developing agreements. 

At Hoeven’s request, Chief Tidwell visited North Dakota in late March for meetings with grazing associations and local ranchers to better understand the challenges facing ranchers in the grasslands