FWS establishes procedures providing clarity to landowners with wetland easements


U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, issued the following statement on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) establishing procedures providing clarity to landowners with wetland easements:

“Defending private property owners from an intrusive federal government is one of my highest priorities. North Dakota landowners deserve the right to appeal assertions of wrongdoing and be provided safe harbor while the administrative process proceeds. Today’s Order also allows landowners to seek outside scientific expertise without fearing legal retribution,” said Senator Cramer. “Secretary Bernhardt and Director Skipwith are building on the recent Director’s Order and moving forward with necessary efforts to protect our property owners’ rights. I pledge to keep working with them to ensure the guidance they issue lead to meaningful, structural change throughout the Service.”

According to the announcement from the Department of the Interior, which FWS falls under, today’s guidance encourages FWS personnel to work together with landowners to ensure wetland easements are protected from drainage without needlessly restricting landowner activities. It also gives landowners opportunities for an administrative appeals process to resolve questions about compliance and help avoid unnecessary legal actions. Click here to learn more.

“I credit the leadership of Senators Hoeven and Cramer in recently bringing this issue to light. Today’s announcement is our next step to provide better government services to the American people and further minimize conflict between farmers and protecting waterfowl,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “By working collaboratively and cooperatively with landowners, we can better achieve our mutual wildlife conservation goals.”

“Under President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt’s leadership, the Fish and Wildlife Service supports an effective and transparent government. This starts with open communication and responding to the public’s concerns of overly burdensome policies,” said FWS Director Aurelia Skipwith. “This guidance will greatly improve clarity for landowners and will offer a clear process to help settle potential compliance concerns in a fair and timely manner.”