Goehring urges McHenry ranchers to apply for grazing permits

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is urging McHenry County farmers and ranchers impacted by the 2011 Mouse River flood to learn if they qualify for special use grazing and haying permits on the J. Clark Salyer Refuge.

“The regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has informed me that the agency is issuing special use permits to provide local ranchers with haying and grazing opportunities on the refuge,” Goehring said. “Ranchers should contact the refuge manager, Frank Durbian, at (701) 768-2548, ext. 113, as soon as possible to determine if they qualify for a permit and if a grazing arrangement with the agency would benefit their operation.”

Goehring said he and Gov. Jack Dalrymple wrote to the director of USFWS in June, asking that the agency conduct aerial seeding of damaged pasture adjacent to the Mouse River.

“We believe that restricted flows through the refuge exaggerate the impact to upstream land owners,” Goehring said. “The agency has denied our request, but instead offered the special use of grazing and haying permits.”

Goehring said the USFWS response is insufficient, especially considering the scope and extent of the damage.

“I hope the agency will reconsider its decision,” he said. “In the meantime, ranchers should contact the refuge manager about the special use permits.”

He said ranchers with questions about the situation should contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at (800) 242-7535.