There was an article in the Forum and an idea brought up at the Judiciary Committiee Meeting. I like it. I'm going to add an email address for Lois Delmore, the Chairmain, so you can let her know how you feel about this. I'm going to have to say I'm in favor. 30,000 NR is a very high number where your chance of being denied is VERY LOW. And spreading out the numbers will keep pressure down. Great idea in my mind.
N.D. waterfowl compromise emerges
By Janell Cole
The Forum - 04/03/2002
BISMARCK, N.D. - The irresistible forces and the immovable objects in North Dakota's hunting debate got together again Tuesday at the Capitol. But this time, a possible compromise emerged on the subject of the 30,000 nonresident waterfowl hunters who come to North Dakota.
The two sides in the perennial controversy are those who like the economic boost that nonresident hunters bring to the state, versus the resident hunters who say they're losing access to nonfee hunting land because of nonresident hunters. In 1990, there were just 5,500 nonresident waterfowl hunters.
The Legislature's interim Judiciary Committee B is assigned to find a solution in time for the 2003 session. Its chairwoman, Rep. Lois Delmore, D-Grand Forks, and other legislators said they think there is movement toward middle ground, particularly on the topic of the 30,000 waterfowl hunters.
It came in the form of a proposal from Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce director Randy Frost, whose area enjoys the infusion of nonresident duck hunters' cash.
Rather than cap them at 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000, as some propose, he said the state should have only 7,500 come to hunt here in each week of four weeks of hunting.
It will mean the same number of hunters, but spread them out over the season.
It's worth looking at, some members of the committee said after the meeting.
"Hopefully, we're leading up to a bill that can work and bring balance between the two main groups we've got, the sportsmen and the landowners," Delmore said.
She opened the discussion Tuesday with a pep talk to the capacity crowd: "The committee has been asked to deal with a very contentious issue. It's going to have to be a compromise by all involved."
After attending hunting meetings Gov. John Hoeven ordered on the pheasant season opener last month, she hopes to see more of a cooperative spirit.
"Sometimes I'm disillusioned by the very inappropriate comments on both sides," she said. "None of the players is going to win if we keep going at each other."
Rep. Lyle Hanson, D-Jamestown, submitted a proposed bill Tuesday with a cap of 15,000 nonresident waterfowl hunters spread out to at least five. It's similar to a bill he introduced last session that did not pass. But he also didn't dismiss Frost's idea.
The problem was further illustrated by Deputy Game and Fish Commissioner Roger Rostvet, who told the committee that with only 165,000 acres in the department's PLOTS ("private land open to sportsmen") lease program that pays landowners to allow hunting, it's no wonder there is "pressure" and lack of access. Even with the governor's call for an increase to 500,000 in five to seven years, that is small by comparison to the 45 million acres of privately owned land in the state, he said.
"It's still only five acres per person. You can't buy yourself into access for everyone and every purpose in North Dakota," he said.