BISMARCK, N.D. — A grant program for conservation projects in North Dakota received the lowest number of applications since it was first established by the Legislature about four years ago.
The North Dakota Industrial Commission awarded more than $1 million through Outdoor Heritage Fund grants last week. But the advisory board only received six applications for funding, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
Jim Melchior, chairman of the Outdoor Heritage Fund Advisory Board, said the low number of applications might be the result of a misconception about available funding. The downturn in oil and commodity prices has led to cuts in several areas of the state budget for this biennium.
“The public may think there’s no money available,” Melchior said.
The fund is supported by energy production taxes. Its goal is to restore land affected by energy production, and develop wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas.
Karlene Fine, executive director for the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said that the Outdoor Heritage Fund is predicted to have $19 million available for 2017-19. Fine said the fund has $11 million currently available.
Last week, a working grassland partnership was awarded almost $904,000 for the second phase of a project that provides livestock water and fencing cost-share assistance to landowners. In return, the landowners retain federal Conservation Reserve Program acres as grasslands and develop rotational grazing plans using livestock.
Applications for the next round of grant funding are due April 1.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com