BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum, vice chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, today joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the WGA’s chairman, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperatively address land management challenges.
The agreement between the WGA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims to establish “a framework to allow the Forest Service and WGA to work collaboratively to accomplish mutual goals, further common interests, and effectively respond to the increasing suite of challenges facing western landscapes.” The MOU stems from Perdue’s Shared Stewardship initiative and WGA’s National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.
“We look forward to collaborating more closely with the USDA’s Forest Service to jointly address the urgent challenges facing our western lands, including wildfires, degraded watersheds, invasive species and epidemics of insects and disease,” Burgum said. “Working together, we can manage these risks and develop more efficient, effective public policy for the long-term benefit of our citizens and the environment.”
For more information about the MOU, which was signed during the WGA 2018 Winter Meeting in Hawaii, read the WGA’s news release here.
In a separate meeting with Perdue, Burgum asked that the USDA extend its comment period on the Forest Service’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on proposed changes to management of the Little Missouri National Grassland. An extension would give state agencies and other stakeholders more time to provide thorough comment on the changes, which would impact not only leasing for oil and gas development but also the development of roads, pipelines, trails and other infrastructure on the affected parcels.
The governor and secretary also discussed technology related to precision agriculture, with Burgum sharing the state’s nation-leading efforts in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and his executive budget proposal to invest $30 million in Legacy Fund earnings to build a statewide infrastructure network for UAS flying beyond visual line of sight.