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Politics & Government

Senate OKs Outdoor Hertiage Fund

The state Senate has voted to establish a state outdoor heritage fund.

Under it, $30-million per biennium from oil tax collections would be put into the fund -- to be used for enhancing access for hunting and fishing, as well as help fund projects that create wildlife habitat. The money cannot be used for land purchases.

Sen. Tyler Axness (D-Fargo) had sponsored a Constitutional amendment to create such a fund – and his would have used $100-million from oil taxes.

"Personally, I don't feel that this level of funding ($30 million) is adequately going to fund the depletion of habitat and quality water," Axness argued in the Senate debate. "If we place too little money into this effort now, it'll be too late when we finally realize that the opportunity has passed, and the landscape and wildlife we cherish are diminished."

Farmer-legislators don't like it. They say farmers are good stewards of the land.

Sen. John Andrist (R-Crosby) says he's conflicted over the issue.

"I know I don't like it," said Andrist. "But I wonder if it's worth paying the ransom so we can buy off the wildlife interests who want to control our land."

Andrist called it a "slap in the face" of the agriculture community.

The measure passed 33 to 12. It now goes to Governor Dalrymple for his review.

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