U.S. Supreme Court Decides Not to Hear Wetlands Case

David Ganje indicated last week at the Bismarck Tribune (N.D.) Online that, “On Monday, Jan. 9, The U. S. Supreme Court denied the Petition of a Miner County South Dakota farm couple who were fighting a USDA wetlands designation. USDA enforces rules in which it declares as ‘wetlands’ farmland that has been converted by a farmer from wetlands to arable working land. When such a federal designation is made the farmer loses his right to participate in USDA programs and benefits. Under USDA maps about two thirds of North Dakota, one half of South Dakota and the western part of Minnesota is covered by prairie potholes and wetlands.”

Recall that DTN writer Todd Neeley reported on this case last month, and he explained that, “[The Miner Country farmer, Arlen Foster], who is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, told DTN in September that winter dumps piles of snow nearly every year along a tree belt near a 0.8-acre tract of land on his farm in the southeastern part of the state. Spring melt drains onto his field, often making it impossible to farm.

“As a result, the 0.8 acre tract was declared a wetland based on a USDA process Foster asked the court to review. That process uses so-called reference sites when a tract of land being reviewed has been farmed, making it difficult to determine the presence of wetlands.

“This month, USDA and attorneys for Foster filed briefs with the court on whether it should hear the case.”

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