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Heitkamp calls for more protection of ranchers

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is calling on the U.S. Forest Service to better protect ranchers' grazing rights and to offer compensation to ranching families impacted by a 2013 wildfire.

Heitkamp made the remarks at a roundtable discussion with the U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in Dickinson on Friday.

Heitkamp says fair grazing access is critical to the health of the grasslands and the livelihoods of ranchers. But she says U.S. Forest Service policies are making it difficult for ranchers to do their jobs.

The senator also asked that families affected by a wildfire last year be compensated. The April 2013 Pautre Wildfire near the North Dakota-South Dakota border burned 14,000 acres in the two states and caused $10 million of property damage.