PF Backing N.D. Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Amendment
Pheasants Forever is part of a coalition strongly supporting the proposed Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Amendment in North Dakota. The measure would establish dedicated funding for water, land and wildlife conservation in North Dakota.
Pheasants Forever says a dedicated conservation funding source is the only mechanism that can stem the tide of prairie and grassland losses in North Dakota. Approximately 145,000 acres of North Dakota native prairie were converted to cropland between 2002 and 2007, and North Dakota has lost about 1 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land, with another 1.2 million acres scheduled to expire by the end of 2012. These reductions not only threaten soil and water quality, but the state’s pheasant population, which has historically been among the top three in the country. Bird hunting has always been an economic driver for the rural communities of North Dakota. The massive habitat losses not only threaten the future of upland and waterfowl hunting in the state, but will lead to increased soil erosion and degraded water quality.
The state constitutional amendment would establish a Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Fund that will receive five percent of the total revenues generated from taxes collected from the production and extraction of oil and gas. The coalition estimates the fund could generate $50 million annually, based on current state oil production and price projections. Other states have passed similar dedicated funding initiatives for conservation, including Arkansas and Missouri and, most recently, Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008 and Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Amendment in 2010.
“Wildlife and hunting are part of the North Dakota culture. This amendment aims to keep it that way during this time of great change on the North Dakota landscape,” says Jesse Beckers, Pheasants Forever’s North Dakota Regional Representative, “Development and loss of CRP acres have and will continue to negatively affect wildlife populations unless sweeping action is taken. Pheasants Forever prides itself as ‘The Habitat Organization,’ and is committed to the Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Amendment in North Dakota as the right step for aggressively supporting conservation in North Dakota.”
Pheasants Forever, with its 31 local chapters and 4,100 members in North Dakota, and its five coalition partners – Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust – are working to gather 26,904 qualified signatures before August 8, 2012, in order for the measure to be placed on the November 6, 2012, general election ballot.
For more information about Pheasants Forever’s efforts in North Dakota, contact Jesse Beckers at (701) 202-8120 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
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