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Letter to the editor: N.D. needs to balance growth with preserving landscape

For the past 25 years, I have had the great pleasure of calling North Dakota my home. I have always been proud of my roots and am so glad that I chose to stay and build my life here. However, our state has come to a crossroads; a place where we have big decisions to make that will shape the future of our landscape for coming generations.

The development we have seen in recent years has brought great attention to our state and has strengthened our economy to rival any other in the country. We continue to have increased job growth, low unemployment and business opportunities never before experienced in this state. I was recently reading an article about why so many young professionals are choosing to make their homes here in North Dakota, finding stable careers and financial security to raise their families. These are all fantastic traits of the state and I’m proud of them. However, many of us continue to stay here for quality of life reasons and others choose to visit for those same reasons.

Those of us who’ve long enjoyed this prairie state know how valuable and precious our lakes, grasslands and natural resources are and how much we love to hunt, fish and simply enjoy the great outdoors. My fear is that the push for development continues to outweigh those priceless resources. Not only will we see great future detriment to the outdoor heritage we love, I am afraid that we already have.

For all of these reasons, I am proud to support the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks measure. The development in Western North Dakota has created unprecedented budget growth. Seven months into the current biennium, our revenue has already exceeded forecasts by $150 million. It is high time we use this financial opportunity to make serious investments into conserving our landscape for future generations, before it is too late. Not only will these funds be used to protect our natural resources and outdoor heritage, they will allow us to protect our clean water sources, provide natural flood controls  and provide further recreational opportunities with parks and trails. These are all needs that we can agree upon. We must balance this valuable economic growth with preserving our ever deteriorating landscape. The future of North Dakota, as we know it, depends on it.

(Oversen, a Democrat, represents District 42 in the North Dakota Legislature)