Conservation Message – Bits & Pieces

March 21, 2012 by  

By Nick Simonson

Normally, I’d being talking about getting ready for spring by now.  But in case you missed it, spring is over.  Welcome to June.  All kidding and weather-banter aside, spring is here and everyone’s timetable has been moved up, but there are some important dates, activities and here-and-now conservation message actions that are going on which may affect fishing and hunting for generations to come.
Making Amends
The most noteworthy development in the upper Midwest, in terms of preserving habitat and hunting opportunities, is the Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Amendment, which was okayed by the N.D. Secretary of State in January to be brought to a vote by the general public.  The amendment would use five percent of the existing oil tax revenue in the state to establish a fund for clean water, flood control, conservation, recreational and wildlife habitat projects.  In order to place this initiative on the statewide ballot for the general election, proponents must collect 27,000 signatures by Aug. 8.
While similar to Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, the N.D. amendment would tap the growing oil tax funds generated by operations in the western third of the state, as opposed to a sales tax.  Proponents see this Amendment as a way to tap readily-available funds to continue conservation efforts in the wake of dwindling Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, and as a way of offsetting the environmental changes coming with the progression of oil and gas operations in the state.

Conservation Message General Enrollment
The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) opened the CRP general enrollment last week, and on Mar. 12, landowners with marginal land were given the option through Apr. 6 to renew or sign-up their lands for set-aside.  After 25 years, CRP has shown a proven track record of protecting natural resources from coast-to-coast, while providing significant economic and environmental boons to rural communities who cater to hunters.  Setting aside lands does more than just provide habitat for game birds, deer and watchable wildlife; it also prevents erosion, removes chemical runoff from ground water and limits downstream deposits of sediment.
The typical CRP contract runs from ten to 15 years in length. Agricultural producers with expiring contracts and producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP. Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, signup basis. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP; and contracts on an estimated 6.5 million acres nationwide will expire at the end of September.
Attacking ANS
Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) have become less of a buzzword and more of a bane to successful fishing and water recreation in recent years.  Agencies across the upper Midwest have stepped up their efforts to slow and prevent the spread of headline-grabbing nasties like Asian bighead carp and the high-flying silver carp, along with the usual suspects infiltrating regional lakes such as spiny water fleas, zebra mussels and curly leaf pondweed.
The Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) has instituted a mandatory training program for all lake service providers – i.e. those engaged in the installation, transport, storage and preparation of boats, lifts docks and other mobile items which might foster the spread of ANS from water-to-water.  Service providers are required to complete the training this year and apply via the DNR website for their permit. The service provider permit is valid for three years, and requires a $50 registration fee.
In the immortal words of Mathew Broderick, in his most iconic role as Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  With this spring seemingly in fast forward, it might be worth it to take a quick break and check out the conservation message efforts ongoing in your area and see what can be done to help bring about a better future…in our outdoors.


One Comment on "Conservation Message – Bits & Pieces"

  1. Tyler Hofer on Tue, 27th Mar 2012 7:14 am 

    Where can this petition be found in the Fargo area? I know many people asking the same question. You would think this information would be given in the article given the importance of such a petition.

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.