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Advisory committee appointed for Outdoor Heritage Fund

Governor Dalrymple has named the members of the new North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund Advisory Board.

That board will make recommendations on grants from that fund. The fund was created by the 2013 Legislature – and there will be up to 30-million dollars available to spend.

The 12 voting members represent outdoor, energy and agriculture interests. In addition, four state officials will serve as non-voting members. The group will make recommendations to the Industrial Commission.

"The key to this is that all of the diverse interests will be gathered together, at the same table, in open discussion, about what is the absolute best way to use our dollars to promote conservation enhancement, wildlife and outdoor recreation for our citizens," said Dalrymple. "I'm feeling very positive about the potential this group brings to us."

Dalrymple appointed Eric Aasmundstad, representing the Farm Bureau; Robert Kuylen of the Farmers Union; Wade Moser of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association; Dan Wogsland of the North Dakota Grain Growers; Blaine Hoffman of the Petroleum Council; Jim Melchior of the Lignite Energy Council; Dr. Tom Hutchens of Ducks Unlimited; Patricia Stockdill of Pheasants Forever; Randy Bina of the North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association; Jon Godfread of the Greater North Dakota Chamber; and two at-large members, Dr. Carolyn Godfread and Kent Reierson. In addition, there are four non-voting members: Game and Fish director Terry Steinwand, Parks and Recreation director Mark Zimmerman, state forester Larry Kotchman and Ronda Vetsch of the Association of Soil Conservation Districts.

As that advisory committee prepares to meet for the first time, North Dakota voters may also be asked to decide on a richer fund for outdoor and conservation projects. Signatures are being sought to create a permanent fund in the state’s Constitution – which would use a percentage of oil tax money. It’s estimated those collections could bring in $75 million – or more – over a biennium. The statutory fund created by the Legislature is funded at $30 million.

Governor Dalrymple says he hasn’t studied the details of the initiated measure. But he says the new statutory fund should work well.

"If this program goes as well as I think it's going to go, I think it will have a lot of popular support," said Dalrymple. "And I think that the Legislature will probably want to give it still more support in the next session."

The Industrial Commission will have the final say on which conservation projects receive grants from that fund. The advisory committee holds its first meeting Monday.

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