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Heitkamp wants Forest Service to acknowledge negligence for fire

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell requesting that his agency acknowledge negligence and fully reimburse ranchers who lost property in last year’s Pautre Fire.

Tidwell visited Dickinson last week as part of a roundtable with ranchers, organized by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. The service chief said that the Forest Service is still reviewing reimbursement claims and apologize for the fire. Grand River Cooperative Grazing Association President Tim Smith said that the process is taking too long.

“I am alarmed by reports the Forest Service may consider limiting reimbursements for ranchers impacted by the Pautre Fire by taking the position that the fire was not the result of negligent behavior,” Heitkamp wrote.