As the message of measure 5, the Clean Water Wildlife and Parks amendment, spreads throughout North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has proposed an $80.4 million dollar package to support statewide conservation.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that Darymple presented a budget proposal Monday that would nearly triple the state’s current spending on conservation efforts. The governor joined other state officials at the Capitol to define how the new budget proposal would be implemented.
The proposal would set aside 200 acres of state-owned land along the Missouri River for a new state park, which would be the first since the 1980’s. In addition, the new plan would increase the existing North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund from the current $30 million per biennium to $50 million. Also, $30.4 million in new funding for state park upkeep was discussed on Monday.
“This is the approach I feel is the right way to go,” Dalrymple said. “This $80.4 million package … will not add significantly to the state’s ongoing budget obligations.”
The Tribune quoted Jon Godfread, vice president of governmental affairs, for the Greater North Dakota Chamber and the leader of the opposition to Measure 5 calling themselves North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation, who claimed the governor’s announcement shows that the state can address conservation adequately.
“What it shows is there’s a willingness to look at addressing the needs,” Godfread said.
Carmen Miller, a public policy director for the Great Plains Region for Ducks Unlimited, also stated that the governor’s actions were steps in the right direction. Ducks Unlimited is a part of a coalition that includes hundreds of businesses, individuals, sportsman organizations and health officials who support measure 5.
The North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks amendment would set aside 5 percent of the state’s already existing oil and gas extraction tax for conservation efforts. Last month, the organization turned in over 41,000 signatures for a spot on November’s ballot.
Currently, North Dakota ranks 49th out of the 50 US states in conservation spending, placing only above Rhode Island.