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Doug Leier, Published December 18 2008

Meetings provide best conversation

Those of you who know me, or have read this column with any frequency, understand that I truly enjoy the dialogue when the topic is hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation issues in and around North Dakota.

I savor the passion our citizens bring to the discussion, and always appreciate different points of view, observations from the field, and new ideas.

In a much broader sense, the same is true for North Dakota Game and Fish Department as a whole, especially this time of year as public advisory board meetings are spread out across the state over three weeks. From Regent to Minto and from Ellendale to Williston, these meetings provide a unique forum for Department decision-makers and the citizens of North Dakota.

Discussion at advisory board meetings usually involves several issues. Some are local, such as perhaps the rationale for stocking a community fishing pond, or how the August Canada goose season was received by local landowners and hunters.

Others, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, the situation with elk in the south unit or Theodore Roosevelt National Park and assessing this year’s deer season are of interest to all hunters.

E-mail, text messaging, cell phones and Web sites have made getting in touch with Game and Fish managers easier than ever. However, nothing can replace the benefit of a face-to-face meeting and discussion.

The state’s eight Game and Fish Advisory Board members are appointed by the governor. The advisory board does not make policy, but rather serves as a liaison between the Department and landowners, hunters, anglers and trappers.

After the fall meetings are held in the eight districts, advisory board members meet with Department staff to gather insight on how decisions in one area of the state may be received or affect other regions. It’s a unique matrix that provides several layers of input to discern the best possible course of action for all vested interests.

Through this column, I make a pointed effort to highlight some of these same issues, and while there’s no better means of communication than face-to-face, we also understand that not everyone is able to attend a meeting. Fortunately, the advisory board circuit will convene again next spring, and the locations will shift other areas within each district.

These meetings are your opportunity. One of my common responses to ideas suggested during gas station or coffee shop conversations is for the person to attend an advisory board meeting and bring up the topic for others to hear. Third-party communication can get distorted. The most efficient means of communication, as the saying goes, is straight from the horse’s mouth.

If you missed this fall’s meetings, the experimental September antlerless deer season in the extreme northeast deer hunting units of 2C and 2D was put on the table for input and Department insight.

Dialogue also included an update on the continuing effort against the import and spread of aquatic nuisance species, the future of PLOTs and CRP with their impact on our hunting and conservation programs, lead in venison, and findings from a legislatively endorsed study on the recruitment and retention of hunters in North Dakota.

Like any meeting involving your line of work, from farming to business, I often leave with even more questions.

Between now and the next round of meetings, you’ll find all the information you want and more from the free Department offerings found on the Game and Fish Web site at gf.nd.gov, along with e-mail subscriptions to our weekly news release, webcast, the monthly “North Dakota Outdoors” magazine and more.

The insight and information available provides a means to keep up with what’s going on in our outdoor world.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier’s blog can be found online at www.areavoices.com