Board okays Heritage Fund requests

The Outdoor Heritage Fund advisory board met in Bismarck Monday and Tuesday for the purpose of screening approximately 80 requests for nearly $30 million in grant money per biennium from oil and gas production tax revenue.

The fund was approved by the state Legislature in 2013.

The advisory board forwarded only 18 grant requests to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the agency that has final oversight on how fund dollars will eventually be allocated. Those agencies that submitted grant requests that were rejected, can re-submit their requests prior to any of the upcoming grant round deadlines dates April 1, Aug. 1, Nov. 1 and April 1, 2015.

Requests were to meet at least one of four directives, the first being “Provide access to private and public lands for sportsmen, including projects that create fish and wildlife habitat and provide access for sportsmen.” Only two requests met Directive A, one from the North Dakota Game & Fish Department and another from the Spirit Lake National Fish and Wildlife Department.

The advisory board recommended Game & Fish receives $1.9 million for use through the Private Land Open To Sportsmen and Save Our Lakes programs. Game & Fish had requested $2 million. Spirit Lake asked for, and received a recommendation of, $8,568 for creating maps that could be provided to sportsmen.

The North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts requested $2.5 million for a statewide tree planting project. The advisory board recommended approval of nearly $1.9 million.

It was recommended that the Minot Family YMCA be awarded $45,000 to provide a new fitness and environmental park adjacent to its facility in southwest Minot. The YMCA had asked for $50,000.

Among other requests to be forwarded to the Industrial Commission was nearly $1.2 million to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Ducks Unlimited proposes to restore and develop habitat on public and private land and to enroll 20,000 additional grassland acres in its Environmental Quality Incentive Program.

Requests that were not labeled for recommendation included $3.75 million for a Working Lands Partnership program proposed by the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, $634,000 by the Minot Park District to develop Centennial Park, and $7,500 to connect sewer and water to a FEMA trailer at Burlington’s Old Settler’s Park.

The first round of requests totaled more than $35 million. The Industrial Commission consists of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.