Candidates weigh in on maintaining hunting opportunitiesEditor’s note: North Dakota Senate and House candidates from District 12 answer questions in this periodic series leading up to Election Day.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Editor’s note: North Dakota Senate and House candidates from District 12 answer questions in this periodic series leading up to Election Day.
Most of the candidates for the District 12 seats in the North Dakota Legislature agree that the loss of Conservation Reserve Program acres in North Dakota will harm wildlife and hunting opportunities in the state.
The CRP program leases land from farmers that is then left in grass. The land serves as high quality wildlife habitat. North Dakota currently has 2.4 million acres in CRP with 800,000 expiring this fall. With high farm commodity prices much of the land is anticipated to be returned to cultivation next year.
One of the programs operated by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is Private Land Open to Sportsmen. This program pays farmers to make their lands available to hunters.
Here is what the candidates had to say when asked if North Dakota was doing enough to maintain hunting opportunities with the loss of CRP lands.
Bernie Satrom: “I’m not sure if we are doing enough. There are private groups very involved in acquiring habitat and that’s awesome. I’m not sure what the state’s role should be in this. We have a lot of money with the surplus but also a lot of needs. We need to be careful what we take on.”
Satrom is the Republican candidate for District 12 Senate. He is the president of Maranatha Custom Churches, Inc. of Jamestown.
John Grabinger: “CRP is a federal program and obviously it is devastating to hunting to lose those acres. But I understand the need to put those acres back in production. I think Game and Fish has taken notice and is taking steps to build herds back up and it looks like things are coming back. An enhanced PLOTS program could benefit both the hunter and farmer.”
Grabinger is the Democratic candidate for District 12 Senate. He is a former Jamestown City Council member and owner of Grabinger’s Marine of Jamestown.
Ken Hall: “North Dakota has a lot of other programs. The PLOTS program and others can take up the slack. By taking land out of CRP it helps balance the federal budget and that is worth it, although I’m not against the state doing things to increase habitat.”
Hall is the Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is retired from the federal government, including three years with the U.S. Army.
Lyle Hanson: “I imagine we’re doing as much as we can. We don’t have the money it takes to rent much land at the prices now and it would take legislative action to buy land. At one time there was a million acres in the PLOTS program but we’ve lost a lot of that. The Game and Fish Department can change that program and may end up concentrating on better habitat.”
Hanson is an incumbent Democrat candidate for District 12 House. He is a retired teacher and has served in the North Dakota House since 1979.
Jessica Haak: “It is very important to preserve the environment and improve the quality of water and the land. The state can do more environmentally which ties into hunting, which is a fun and adventurous part of North Dakota life. I would be more proactive on the environmental issues.”
Haak is a Democratic candidate for District 12 House. She is the membership development coordinator at North Dakota Farmers Union in Jamestown.
Alex Looysen: “The good thing is we have several private groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever that try to care for the environment so hunting and fishing can continue long-term. I would do everything I can to preserve hunting opportunities and maintain gun laws that allow law-abiding citizens to hunt.”
Looysen is a Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is a student at Jamestown College and owns a lawn care business.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com