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No takers on ND grazing offer

The Little Missouri National Grasslands serve as grazing land for several of North Dakota's small farmers and ranchers who have secured the proper permits. Due to the need for permits, it is unlikely that out-of-state residents living in states with extreme drought could use the lands to graze their animals.

Bone dry conditions in other states do not appear to be leading people to bring their animals over the state line to North Dakota from what many local officials tell.

Late last month, North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring approved for landowners to accept animals from other states who need a place to graze.

But Kurt Froelich, extension agent with the North Dakota State University Extension Services for Stark/Billings County, said he was unaware of anyone locally who had accepted out-of-state cattle to use their private land for grazing since drought conditions set in other states.

Lola Hewson, secretary/business manager for the Little Missouri Grazing Association, said she believes that agricultural commissioners from other states have been in contact with Goehring about grazing opportunities in North Dakota.

But Hewson said it would be unlikely that someone who would come from another state would be able to use the Little Missouri National Grasslands to graze their animals because ranchers using the land have to have grazing permits for that ground.

"Any cattle that uses that ground for grazing has to be branded with the permitted ranch brand and belong to the rancher who has the grazing permit for that land," she said. "It's a safeguard because the federal grazing land is meant to help small ranchers so they can operate viable family ranchers. Because of that, the federal land can only be used for an individual's own cattle and no one can use the federal land in order to make a profit."

Hewson said at an association board meeting Tuesday, the lack of moisture and its impact on the land was discussed.

"Eventually, the lack of foliage will mean there will have to be grazing cutbacks in either numbers or time," she said. "If not this year, then maybe it will be next year because there won't be enough growth."

The Little Missouri Grazing Association has dealt with both dry and overly wet summers in the past, so, Hewson said.

"This has happened to us before, so it's not unusual," she said. "Last year, it was an unusually wet year and this year it's been dry, but it isn't unusual. Usually when we have an above average wet year, though, it's not as people tend to be happy and it isn't as much of a problem, as far as grazing goes."

A representative from the Medora Grazing Association said she has not heard of anyone from out of state coming over to the area to graze their animals.

But like the Little Missouri Grazing Association's land, the Medora Grazing Association also requires users who want to graze their animals on the land to possess the association's permit, making it less likely that someone from out of state would be able to use the land for grazing.

The North Dakota Bureau of Land Management for the Forest Service National Grasslands Medora Ranger District also was not aware of any out-of-state residents coming to the area to graze their animals.