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North Dakota amendment to dedicate statewide funding for conservation

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A diverse coalition of conservation and outdoors leaders, including Ducks Unlimited, has filed an initiated constitutional measure petition with the North Dakota secretary of state that would establish permanent funding for water and land conservation and parks development in the state.

“Reinvesting in natural areas helps preserve our outdoor traditions, such as hunting, fishing and enjoying our recreation areas with our friends and families,” said Steve Adair, sponsoring committee chairperson and director of operations for DU’s Great Plains Region. “The fund also aims to improve natural flood control through the restoration and protection of natural areas along rivers, lakes and streams.”

The constitutional amendment will establish a permanent Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Fund that will receive 5 percent of the total revenues generated from taxes collected from the oil and gas extraction tax. A 13-member citizen advisory board will review grant applications and provide oversight and accountability measures to ensure all project funds are spent in North Dakota to benefit the state’s natural resources. Final grant decisions will be made by a commission comprised of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner.

“Five percent of the existing extraction tax is a fair and appropriate investment to prevent the loss of the great quality of life that we have in North Dakota,” Adair said.

 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 145,000 acres of North Dakota native prairie were converted to cropland between 2002 and 2007. North Dakota has lost about 2 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program land in that same time.

Once the secretary of state approves the ballot measure wording, the coalition must gather approximately 27,000 qualified signatures in order for the measure to be placed on the Nov. 5, 2014, ballot.

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