Hoeven Statement on Confirmation of Fish and Wildlife Service Director

Senator Advancing Wetlands Regulatory Relief for Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today issued the following statement after joining the Senate in confirming Aurelia Skipwith as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

“The perpetual easements and wetlands determinations under the FWS impose tremendous uncertainty on producers and do not have an adequate appeals process,” said Hoeven. “We made the cost and challenges of this approach clear to Secretary Bernhardt during his recent visit to North Dakota, and we will work with Director Skipwith in her new role to provide much-needed relief from these burdens to our farmers and ranchers.”

Hoeven has been working to advance regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers impacted by wetlands easements under the FWS. To this end, Hoeven, along with Senator Kevin Cramer, outlined this issue to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at a meeting in North Dakota earlier this year. Hoeven highlighted the differences between the wetlands regulations at the FWS compared to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), under which Hoeven sought to provide regulatory relief as a member of the 2018 Farm Bill conference committee. This includes:

  • Maintaining Private Property Rights: In defense of the private property rights of farmers and ranchers, and at Hoeven’s urging, a proposal to authorize permanent easements was not included in the farm bill.
  • NRCS Site Visit: Improves the quality of the wetland appeals process by requiring NRCS to conduct a site visit with the participant after an appeal has been filed.
  • Report on Small Wetlands: Directs the NRCS to report the number of wetland acres in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa that have been delineated and are less than one acre.