Conrad and Hoeven Urge ND Ranchers to Prepare for Spring Floods

Washington –Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven today met with North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring to discuss several issues of importance to North Dakota ranchers, including new U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposed rules governing access to the Little Missouri National Grasslands.

"For North Dakota's family ranchers, the grasslands represent their livelihood. They know how important it is to care for the land," Senator Conrad said. "The Forest Service controls the federal land while the ranchers manage it. They must continue to work together to ensure the grasslands remain for generations to come."

“Ranching is not only a part of North Dakota’s economy, but also a part of our heritage,” Senator Hoeven said. “North Dakota’s ranchers know the importance of preserving the grasslands for future generations. The Forest Service needs to apply common sense rules that recognize our ranchers respect for the land and their need to make a living.”

Today's meeting centered on new USFS rules requiring ranchers to adopt certain conservation practices, such as cross fencing. If ranchers do not comply with the rules, they would be forced to reduce stocking rates, the number of cattle grazed on an area over a length of time. However, ranchers contend that the proposed conservation practices require additional time and costs for ranchers that could burden their operations.

In addition, the Senators and commissioner discussed a USFS plan that would limit vehicle access to some of the nearly 2,500 miles of private roads in the Little Missouri National Grasslands. The Forest Service regards off-road vehicles as a major threat to grassland health and is concerned with mapping private roads that may not be properly maintained. Many hunters and other members of the public would like to maintain access to existing roads.

Additionally, the Senators discussed concerns of grasslands flooding this spring and the impact it would have on North Dakota's ranchers.