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Letter: Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks trust fund petition bad for the state

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In April 2013, the governor of North Dakota signed a bill creating the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which provides $30 million per biennium for parks, recreation and wildlife.

North Dakota is already spending millions of dollars per year on conservation programs. I believe that the governor and his staff are doing a great job in the management of the present programs.

There is a petition being circulated that would create (using your money) another wildlife fund. This fund would be called the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks trust fund. If enough signatures are gathered, they would put another measure on the November 2014 ballot.

Who are the folks circulating these petitions? Here is the answer: the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Dakota Resource Council and Ducks Unlimited.

Where is this money coming from? Glad that you asked. They want 5 percent of the oil and gas extraction tax collected by the state. At the current rate of oil production this would generate at least $150 million per biennium.

The petition states that at least 75 percent of this money must be spent every year. With the Sierra Club in on the take, do you really think they will let you hunt on the land that is purchased with money from this fund?

If this were to become law, it would be less money that could be spent on schools and road infrastructure. The property tax relief that you have been getting from the state Legislature would probably not be available. If the state of North Dakota has any conservation needs, I want the Legislature to provide funding.

There are groups that have come out against this petition, including the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, the North Dakota Farm Bureau, the North Dakota League of Cities, the North Dakota Association of Counties and the North Dakota School Boards Association.

This is a bad petition for the state and for the citizens of North Dakota. I urge you not to sign it.

Al Bekkerus,

Grand Forks

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