Outdoor Heritage Fund grants smallest amount in its history

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Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A program supported by energy production tax that provides grants to conservation projects in North Dakota is doling out about $1.1 million in the latest round of funding.

It’s the smallest amount awarded since the 2013 Legislature created the Outdoor Heritage Fund, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1OMXhRO ).

Previous grant rounds have involved amounts of at least $2.5 million. The advisory board that makes funding recommendations to the state Industrial Commission implemented a $1.5 million limit for the latest grant round due to the slumping oil industry.

The fund that gets a percentage of oil and gas production taxes is getting less than half the money initially expected during the current two-year budget cycle, leading to more scrutiny of proposed projects.

“Sometimes when you have less, you spend better,” advisory board Chairman Jim Melchior said.

The fund’s goal is to restore land affected by energy production, and develop wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas. There were 27 applications totaling more than $8 million for the current grant round.

The largest grant approved was for $900,000 to be split among soil conservation districts in Morton, Grant and Oliver counties. The four-year project involves livestock water systems, grassland plantings and grazing plans.