Home Office Assistant Secretary Hears First-Hand About Easement Problems in North Dakota’s Waterfowl Production Area | News, Sports, Jobs

Kim Fundingsland / MDN Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND, listens to a response from Shannon Estenoz, Home Office Assistant Secretary for Fisheries, Wildlife and Parks. Cramer hosted Estenoz for a visit to North Dakota regarding waterfowl production area easements.

“Their private property rights are what is at stake” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND. “America’s exceptionalism is built around private property and those rights. I feel there is more and more evidence that will ultimately be too compelling to ignore. If not by our own political system, then by our judicial system.

Cramer was responding to the question of easement rights to the waterfowl production area and the challenges landowners across the state have encountered working with the Fish and Wildlife Service. “Rigidity and heaviness” approach in the application of wetland determinations.

At Cramer’s invitation, Home Department Assistant Secretary of Fisheries, Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz got a first-hand look at areas of concern in North Dakota on Wednesday and participated in a table round with Burlington landowners.

“It has been a very productive few hours for me” noted Estenoz in the post-roundtable comments. “Nothing really replaces listening to the people on the ground and their point of view. It’s a really important question for people here. This is not trivial.

Cramer noted the complexity of the mapping process used to identify WPA easements and the problems it creates for landowners.

“We need some consistency in the mapping process and an appeal process that doesn’t require a bank of lawyers for years and years.” Cramer said.

Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, also participated in the roundtable and echoed Cramer’s concerns.

“We need an appeal process in place that is fair to these farmers,” Hoeven said. “We ask the secretary to make sure our farmers receive fair treatment. That’s what it’s about. Not all appeals can go against farmers. It is not a fair process.

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