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DU says law violates landowner rights and hinders business

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    BISMARCK, N.D., June 10, 2009 – For the third consecutive time Governor John Hoeven has rejected an application from Ducks Unlimited to purchase land in North Dakota. DU says the law that dictates this approval process overrides private property rights of landowners and hinders DU’s ability to do business in North Dakota.

    “We understand the governor’s situation. He must render a decision based on a highly discriminatory process and an unjust law,” said Jim Ringelman, DU director of conservation programs for North Dakota. “It’s unfortunate. There are many landowners in North Dakota who want to sell to DU but the approval process invariably leads to rejection and denies them the opportunity.”

    The McLean County land DU wanted to purchase is owned by Ted Tishinski. The property includes 30 acres of wetlands, 88 acres of native prairie and about 203 acres of Conservation Reserve Program land. Under North Dakota’s corporate farming law, the governor must approve the sale of all farm and ranch land to non-profits. The local county commission and the Natural Area Acquisition Advisory Committee both make a recommendation to the governor. In this case both committees voted against DU.

    “Three parties are negatively impacted by this law: private landowners, non-profit organizations and the sportsmen and women of our state and nation,” Ringelman said.

    As part of its conservation programs in the Missouri Coteau, DU purchases key properties with high waterfowl habitat value. Grasslands owned by DU are kept in livestock production by renting to local ranchers. These properties are open to public hunting and recreation. The organization also pays all property taxes and manages the property well for weeds and other problems.

    “Grassland in the Missouri Coteau is recognized as critical habitat in many national conservation plans. It is DU’s number one priority,” Ringelman said. “This law affects our business and our ability to implement programs that advance our mission.”

    With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

For more information on DU’s grassland programs, www.ducks.org/grasslandsfortomorrow

Media contacts:
Jennifer Kross, 701-202-8896, jkross@ducks.org
Becky Jones Mahlum, 701-355-3507, bjonesmahlum@ducks.org

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