Rancher Dismayed at Oil Issues - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Rancher Dismayed at Oil Issues

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After generations ranching on land near New Town, one man says he's about ready to give up.

It's not because of fluctuating markets or difficult weather conditions.

Bert Hauge says he's considering leaving to get away from the congestion of oil development.

Jim Olson reports.

Something as simple as loading up bales of hay, pulling onto the adjacent gravel road, and heading out a few miles toward the home his family established more than a century ago...has changed for Bert Hauge.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "It's like a whole different world."

It's a world now more influenced by the needs of the burgeoning oil industry than by local ranchers' schedules. This seemingly mundane task of moving hay can be delayed by what's happening at nearby wells.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "We have to kind of time it when there's no frac jobs or rig moves because they're hauling wide equipment. Them kind of days we have to shut down because we can't be meeting all the time with them coming at us."

Hauge and his family live at this farmstead northeast of New Town in Mountrail County.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "My grandpa did a lot of the tree planting so the groves are good to protect everything."

But this is not his grandfather's ranching operation.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "There's hundreds of trucks per day, a lot of vehicles all the time."

Hauge says the constant cloud of dust that seems to hang over the entire valley around his land has actually harmed his cattle's health. He believes some of his calves have died because of the dust-infested hay they've eaten. But he sees little chance of any legal action.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "You can see the problem but how do you fix it or how do you prove that it's any certain person or company that's done it?"

Meanwhile, he says the rural feel of the region has slowly drained away.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "You can't leave equipment out because things get stolen, tools and fuel, so you take more time to move that equipment home again, which you normally wouldn't have to. So it seems like it's a lot more time and a lot more people to get the same amount of work done."

For all those reasons, Hauge says he's seriously considering selling out and moving to a state where ranching isn't battling oil development.

(Bert Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "With all this going on now, the frustration of it all, if somebody gave me the right offer I'd probably be out of here."

But there's another reason he hasn't taken that step. It's his 24-year-old son driving the cattle across the road to a fresh pasture. Hesston would like to continue his family's legacy on this land. And he thinks it can happen with some cooperation.

(Hesston Hauge, Mountrail Co. Rancher) "If the oil field and ranchers could work together to make it more comparable to work with people we'd get things done."

So the Hauge's continue to deal with the changes in their operation - keeping one eye on the cattle, and the other on greener pastures somewhere else. Near New Town, Jim Olson, KX News.

The Hauge family works about 500 head of cattle on land about 10 miles northeast of New Town.

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