Rounds, Hoeven backed bill reduces burden of long-term easements on landowners

U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and John Hoeven (R-ND) on April 4 signed on as original cosponsors of the Landowner Easement Rights Act, which aims to reduce permanent easements that limit the use of certain land to protect its conservation values.

“The Landowner Easement Rights Act protects the private property rights of South Dakotans,” Sen. Rounds said. “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.”

If enacted, S. 3989 would prohibit the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from entering into a conservation easement with a term of more than 50 years and would provide the owners of existing easements with the option to renegotiate, renew or buy out the easement, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“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 Sen. Hoeven. “Our bill provides greater flexibility and empowers farmers, ranchers and other landowners to make the best use of their property.”

Additionally, S. 3989 would set forth requirements for the renegotiation of a conservation easement at the request of a landowner who is subject to a conservation easement that has been in effect for longer than 50 years, or was put into effect before 1977 without the creation of an official corresponding map, according to the text of the bill. The Department of the Interior would be required to notify such landowners of their right to submit a request.

S. 3989 was introduced by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and is the identical bill to H.R. 7021, introduced on March 9 by U.S. Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) in their chamber.