Hoeven Statement on Fish & Wildlife Service Establishing Appeals Process for Wetlands Maps, Clarifying Easement Boundaries

Senator Helped Advance Due Process & Regulatory Relief for Landowners with Interior Secretary Bernhardt

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 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it would work with landowners to clarify pre-1976 wetlands easement boundaries and provide a process to appeal wetlands maps. This follows Hoeven, along with Senator Kevin Cramer, hosting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in North Dakota to highlight the need for due process and regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers impacted by FWS wetlands easements.

“We appreciate the efforts of Secretary Bernhardt regarding perpetual easements and wetlands determinations at the FWS,” said Hoeven. “Our landowners, including farmers and ranchers, deserve due process without having to bear the burden of costly litigation. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration to ensure these reforms provide an adequate appeals process and much-needed regulatory relief.” 

“I appreciate the leadership of Senators Hoeven and Cramer in bringing this issue to light as we have taken action to minimize needless conflict with farmers in protecting waterfowl,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “President Trump and I are committed to ensuring that we have a government that better serves the American people and is responsive to addressing real concerns.”

During the meeting with Bernhardt, Hoeven outlined 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.