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Outdoor Heritage Fund gets fewer grant requests in second round

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news Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund has received about one-third as many grant requests in its second round as it did in the first round, after the fund's advisory board made it clear what types of projects wouldn’t be considered.

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Tuesday was the deadline for filing grant applications with the state Industrial Commission or having them postmarked.

As of Thursday morning, the commission had received 26 grant requests totaling about $6.8 million, compared with 74 requests totaling more than $34 million that were considered in the first grant round.

Wade Moser, chairman of the fund’s advisory board, said the smaller number of applications should make it easier for the board to review them and make grant recommendations to the Industrial Commission. During the first grant round, board members spent two full days listening to presentations from applicants.

“We really had a plateful last time,” Moser said.

In the first round, the Industrial Commission awarded 17 of the 18 grants recommended by the advisory board, for a total of nearly $5.85 million.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created by the state Legislature last year and is limited to $30 million every two years from state oil and gas production tax revenue.

After the initial round, the Industrial Commission approved several revisions to the grant application and budget forms to clarify the intent of the fund.

Applicants are now informed that grants won’t be awarded for staffing, feasibility studies, annual maintenance, paving projects, swimming pools, certain equipment and research, as well as projects that are already completed or ongoing. A minimum 25 percent funding match also is strongly encouraged, but not required.

The commission’s executive director, Karlene Fine, said she believes the smaller number of applicants in the second round is partly a reaction to the new parameters.

“I also think there was just a lot of interest the first time around,” she said, adding that now, "They've got a better sense of what we were looking for, I think."

The advisory board is scheduled to meet May 13 to review the second-round grant requests. The largest request, which arrived Thursday morning, is an application by the Little Missouri Grazing Association for $1.75 million to control noxious and invasive weeds.

A couple of first-round applicants whose requests were rejected have reapplied in the second round, and others called to say they wouldn’t have their requests ready for the second round but planned to apply before the third-round deadline on Aug. 1, Fine said.

A list of the grant applications is posted online at http://www.nd.gov/ndic/ohf-applications.html.

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The Dickinson Press (701) 225-4205 customer support
Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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