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North Dakota landscape [Photo: North Dakota Tourism]
North Dakota landscape [Photo: North Dakota Tourism]

Landowner Easement Rights Act

The Dakotan
 April 4, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, introduced the Landowner Easement Rights Act with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD). This bill will prohibit the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from entering into a conservation easement with a term of more than 50 years. It will also give owners of existing easements the option to renegotiate, renew, or buy out the easement.

“For far too long farmers and landowners have been subject to the heavy-handed and punitive enforcement of conservation easements managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Too often, these bureaucrats have overstepped the legal bounds of their contracts and turned a blind eye to the appeals of North Dakotans. Our bill acknowledges private property owners’ grievances and provides them the opportunity to make decisions on the land they live and work on,” said Senator Cramer. 

“The Landowner Easement Rights Act protects the private property rights of South Dakotans,” said Senator Rounds. “By ending the practice of permanent, non-transparent easements, this bill will make certain the power is with our farmers, ranchers, and other landowners across the state, not federal bureaucrats.”

“Following our efforts to provide regulatory relief for landowners under the FWS easement process, this legislation would help further reduce the burden that long-term easements have on our producers,” said Senator Hoeven. “By limiting easements to 50 years and giving landowners the ability to renegotiate or buy out existing easements that have existed beyond that timeframe, our bill provides greater flexibility and empowers farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to make the best use of their property.”

In March, U.S. Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Click here for bill text.

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