Boosting N.D.’s economy

Forget that ongoing oil boom, and pay no attention to the centuries-old tradition of North Dakota being one of the nation’s agriculture leaders. An economic report released this week by the federal Interior Department says the department plays a major role in our state’s economy.

The report says energy development, tourism and outdoor recreation on land under its direction contributes $6.9 billion to North Dakota, and creates almost 35,000 jobs. Agencies under the direction of the Interior Department include the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

Well, we guess we should show considerably more gratitude to the Interior Department, but we didn’t know they were a major reason behind the booming North?Dakota economy. Never mind the billions of dollars in private investments that have fueled the Bakken oil boom, or the billions invested in agriculture by small family farmers throughout the state’s history. And don’t forget the Air Force bases in?Grand Forks and Minot, which contribute greatly to local economies, too, as well as the thousands of small businesses that thrive in cities all across North Dakota. We wonder, collectively, how much those industries contribute to the state’s economy.

We readily admit the Interior Department certainly plays a role in North Dakota’s economy. According to Interior figures, federal lands are visited more than 1.4 million times a year, which obviously is a boon to the state’s tourism industry. But it is the department’s responsibility to make sure that federal land is available for tourists to visit that’s part of the agency’s job. Granted, we’re glad they’re doing their job, but perhaps they could be a bit more subtle rather than trumpeting how the federal department.