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Politics & Government

Conservation measure debated

Supporters of a measure to set aside oil tax money for conservation projects say it will help assure North Dakota’s quality of life for generations to come.

But opponents say it may mean less spending on other priorities, such as education and roads.

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Constitutional amendment will be on the November ballot. It would take five percent of the collections from the state’s oil extraction tax – and use it for conservation grants.

"So I would ask you: What are we going to do in this state if we lose our clean water?" said Steve Adair of Ducks Unlimited, who chairs the steering committee for the measure. "What are we going to do if we lose our recreational economy? This measure gives us the best opportunity to retain those things and maintain our great quality of life."

Jon Godfread of the Greater North Dakota Chamber chairs the group "North Dakotans for Sensible Conservation." He told the crowd a measure like this should not be a part of the state’s Constitution.

"We've got a process in place now with the Outdoor Heritage Fund where we can address our needs," said Godfread. "It's statutory. And we can make the changes we need to make, and not be hamstrung by the Constitution."

The measure’s supporters say the statutory fund – which would spend $30 million over two years – is not adequate. The measure’s opponents say the Legislature could be approached to appropriate more money for that fund as needed.

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