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Letter to the editor: N.D. can’t afford to commit funds to conservation efforts

Efforts to create a massive conservation fund from oil tax revenues are a mistake. As large as our state’s surpluses seem, our basic needs and commitments for public services will consume the large bulk of the surpluses.

Western North Dakota is in need. While the state has done an adequate job investing in our primary roadways, our county and local roads are in ruin.

Local communities are so focused on funding critical safety needs that potholes are left unfixed for years.

Water infrastructure needs leave our home developers waiting indefinitely to build. Home developers are sometimes even being denied because the city cannot commit its limited water or treatment capacity beyond its current residents.

This need is more than pipes in the ground. It directly affects the quality of people we bring into our communities. There are many great people who have chosen to make a new career here, but without adequate housing how can they move their families to our state? How long will families wait for dad to come home? As the national economy recovers, some of our best new neighbors — those who have become good community members — will make the easy decision to take a job closer to home that lets them kiss their kids goodnight. And who can blame them?

Committing $100 million each and every year for conservation efforts might seem noble, but leaves more important priorities unfunded. It is an extra commitment we cannot afford with infrastructure needs so great.

(Hynek is the mayor of Stanley, N.D.)