Hoeven Working to Ensure FWS Wetlands Appeals Process is Fair, Provides Due Process to Landowners

Senator Worked to Provide Regulatory Relief to Landowners Impacted by FWS Easements, Urges Interior Assistant Secretary to Respect Property Rights

BURLINGTON, N.D. – At a meeting with North Dakota stakeholders today, Senator John Hoeven joined Senator Kevin Cramer in urging Interior Assistant Secretary Shannon Estenoz to ensure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) respects landowners’ property rights and provides due process when making and enforcing wetlands determinations. In particular, Hoeven outlined his efforts, along with Cramer, to establish a process to appeal FWS wetlands maps and resolve questions regarding compliance:

  • In 2019, the senators hosted then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in North Dakota, where they highlighted the need to provide regulatory relief for farmers, ranchers and other landowners impacted by FWS wetlands easements.
  • Following this, FWS began working with landowners on this matter and finalized the appeals process last year.

Now under the Biden administration, Hoeven is working to ensure FWS takes a collaborative and fair approach to the appeals process that provides meaningful results for landowners and avoids costly litigation, while also protecting wetlands against drainage. Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also raised these issues with Estenoz during her confirmation hearing earlier this year.

“Our farmers and ranchers provide us with the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, often in the face of tremendous challenges, like this year’s historic drought,” said Hoeven. “We shouldn’t add to their burdens by imposing unnecessary costs and unworkable regulations. That’s why we worked to establish the appeals process at FWS, which helped alleviate the need for expensive litigation when challenging wetlands determinations. I appreciate Assistant Secretary Estenoz for her willingness to meet with our landowners and continue working with us to ensure they have access to a process that is fair, provides due process and results in good environmental stewardship.”