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Letter to the editor: Amendment provides options for landowners

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks constitutional amendment could provide farmers and ranchers with more options and flexibility in conservation programs than they are getting currently through federally-sponsored programs. An example would be a program like the Conservation Reserve Program where landowners would receive an annual payment at current rates for continuing to keep grass on their land, but they would still have the flexibility to graze cattle or hay it if they chose to.

I have noticed a few letters to the editor lately that are filled with misconceptions about the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks amendment, and it does the voting public a disservice to say nothing about the landowners and other North Dakota citizens who could benefit from this landmark program. Those who oppose the measure are spreading rumors about land purchases when they know every grant under the amendment would have to be approved by the governor, attorney general and agricultural commissioner. I am confident that those three elected officials would make decisions that are sensitive to landowners and agriculture. They always have.

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks amendment is structured in a way so it does not take funds away from education or infrastructure and will not raise our taxes. Why? Because dollars for the amendment come only from the surplus portion of the oil revenue our state receives and does not use oil dollars that are specifically set aside for education and infrastructure. North Dakota is projecting to have $6 billion in surplus funds by the end of 2015. We need to put those surplus funds to work by protecting our clean drinking water and our great outdoor heritage as well as improving infrastructure and enhancing education. Don’t you think conserving what we love about our state in the face of great changes deserves a small portion of that surplus?