Public commenting period for Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area deadline is July 25NORTH DAKOTA — The North Dakota Farm Bureau is opposed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area.
By: Emma Murray , The Dickinson Press
NORTH DAKOTA — The North Dakota Farm Bureau is opposed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area.
The idea for the designated area, which was released in December 2010, is to conserve migratory bird habitats in the Prairie Pothole regions in eastern North Dakota, South Dakota and part of northern North Dakota into northeast Montana.
The conservation area would include 1.7 million acres of grassland as well as 240,000 acres of wetlands.
In order obtain and conserve the lands, Fish and Wildlife proposed buying perpetual easements, in which private land owners agree to preserve the natural topography and wildlife habitat by following regulations to be set by the agency.
But due to the “perpetual” nature of the easements, the Farm Bureau doesn’t support the proposal, said Sandy Clark, the group’s public policy director.
“They are simply too long,” she said. “We think (the easements) should be just one generation (20 years). Perpetual easements tie the hands of future generations — you can’t use the property as you see fit.”
If the proposal passes, the state Farm Bureau fears perpetual easements would hurt future land owners’ ability to farm the land because of regulations that could be set by Fish and Wildlife.
“We have some real concerns that in the future the (USFWS) could put buffers on the Prairie Pothole region and end all farming in the region,” Clark said.
The Farm Bureau also believes the $588 million cost to buy the necessary easements would only dig a deeper hole for the federal debt, Clark said.
“We’re already facing a huge debt load in the country, we certainly don’t need more,” she said
The proposal is still open for public comment through July 25.
Murray is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.