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Home on the range: Heitkamp talks drought with local ranchers

Posted 8/15/17 (Tue)

Home on the range: Heitkamp talks drought with local ranchers

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

Off-road drivers and target shooters have left the Little Missouri National Grassland a warzone near Joel Grieger’s place.
“We have no law enforcement so ‘stay on the trail’ signs mean nothing,” the Theodore Roosevelt National Park area rancher said.
Drinking in his words was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), on a tour of western North Dakota towns last Thursday and Friday to address effects of the ongoing drought with farmers, ranchers and others.
Grassland abuse was just one of many topics during Heitkamp’s stop in Watford City Thursday evening to visit with 35 McKenzie County ranchers. Firefighting resources, the U.S. Forest Service management, leafy spurge and migration of prairie dogs were other items as well.
“A lot of city people have the mentality this is all just wasteland,” rancher Gary Tescher told Heitkamp. “It’s important to us.”
Heitkamp took questions and notes to gather feedback for the 2018 Farm Bill, a program she said hasn’t necessarily been in the full interests of ranchers.
“I’ve never believed that we’ve created an adequate safety net for ranchers in our farm program,” she said, flanked by Douglas Nordby, chairman of the McKenzie County Board of Commissioners, and Keith Winter, McKenzie County Grazing Association president.

For the full story, subscribe to the McKenzie County Farmer