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Letter to the editor: N.D. does little to maintain strong recreational economy

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Most investors understand a diversified portfolio is the best way to minimize risk and ensure long-term gains. North Dakota’s economy is no different. Maintaining robust investments in the three legs of our state’s economic stool — agriculture, energy and outdoor recreation and tourism — are vital to our future.

Unfortunately, our outdoor economy is declining due to extensive loss of fish and wildlife habitat. Rapid changes in the landscape threaten our clean water, our unique natural areas and our economy, if we don’t make them a higher priority.

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment is a prudent and appropriate investment in our state’s future without raising taxes. Hunting, fishing and wildlife-related activities contribute $1.4 billion annually to the North Dakota economy. North Dakota has the fourth-highest hunting and fishing participation rate in the country.

Historically, the federal government has provided most of the funding for conservation programs for North Dakota’s landowners. Given the condition of the federal budget, it is time for North Dakotans to take care of ourselves. The state Legislature’s 2013-15 budget invests only 1.3 percent of the state’s resources in our water, wildlife and parks. This is woefully insufficient to maintain a strong recreational economy for North Dakota. That is why I support the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment as a good investment in our economy.

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