Hoeven Urging Forest Service to Better Mitigate Impacts of Prairie Dogs on Grazers, Private Landowners

Senator Raises Issue with USDA Under Secretary, Discusses Efforts to Ensure Equitable Access & Treatment of Ranchers on National Grasslands

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a roundtable with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment James Hubbard, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) officials and leaders from North Dakota grazing associations to discuss efforts to ensure equitable access and treatment to the National Grasslands for the state’s ranchers. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Hoeven has worked to ensure the USFS acts as a good neighbor. To this end, Hoeven hosted USFS Chief Vicki Christianson for a meeting with grazers in North Dakota last year. 

Among other efforts, Hoeven is working to: 

  • Resolve prairie dog mitigation issues on the National Grasslands, which can impact adjacent private lands and create significant costs for landowners.
    • Hoeven is urging the USFS to increase the buffer zone for neighboring private and state lands and further limit prairie dog populations on grazing allotments.
  • Maintain fair treatment of grazers on USFS lands. 
    • Hoeven secured language in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding legislation that allows grazers to carry over grazing fee credits earned by implementing conservation practices. 
    • Previously, the senator also worked to halt a proposed 25 percent increase in grazing fees and helped advance a 10-year extension of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands Demonstration Project.

“As a western state, North Dakota has a significant presence of federal land, which carries real impacts on local industries, including our ranchers,” Hoeven said. “That’s why ensuring these lands are managed properly and access for local use is maintained are such important issues. We’ve been working closely with our grazers and the Forest Service to resolve disputes, including over mitigating damage from prairie dogs, and we appreciate Under Secretary Hubbard’s willingness to hear directly from our producers as these efforts move forward.”