SEATTLE -- A ruling by a federal judge in Seattle is good news for Oklahoma ranchers.
The ruling will allow hay production and cattle grazing on certain lands designated for conservation.
The decision will open about 200,000 acres in Oklahoma to ranchers desperate to feed their cattle, especially those in the drought-stricken Panhandle.
The land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program which pays farmers not to plant crops in order to return fields to native vegetation. The National Wildlife Foundation tried to stop the grazing and haying by saying it would damage bird habitat and water quality.
The judge is limiting the program to farmers and ranchers who applied to use conservation land for haying or grazing by July 8th.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture may also approve other applicants who show they made investments before that date in anticipation of using the conserved land.