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Mike Nowatzki, Published November 24 2013

Outdoor Heritage Fund still working to get word out

BISMARCK – Only four groups have applied for grants from North Dakota’s new Outdoor Heritage Fund since the application period opened a month ago, but the person handling the requests said she expects that number to surge before the Dec. 2 deadline.

“I’ve probably talked to two to three entities every day. It’s been pretty consistent for the last week or so,” Karlene Fine, executive director and secretary of the state Industrial Commission, said Friday.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund approved by the Legislature last spring will receive up to $30 million every two years from the state’s oil and gas production tax revenue. The Industrial Commission will distribute that money as grants for projects related to conservation, recreation and agriculture.

On Oct. 22, the commission approved the application form and review process developed by the fund’s advisory board, which will recommend projects to the commission.

A letter announcing the first-round grant cycle was sent to various interest groups the next day.

Word is still getting out about the program, Fine said, adding that applicants are asking questions about to how to properly fill out the application form and how much budget detail to provide.

In the applications filed so far:

- The Minot Family YMCA is requesting $50,000 to support construction of a new Community Outdoor Fitness Park estimated to cost $466,492.

- The Barnes County Soil Conservation District is asking for $200,000 to support a $957,000 project to reduce the amount of sediment in the Sheyenne River Watershed.

- Sporting Chance, a nonprofit that provides recreational activities for people with disabilities, is requesting $20,000 to improve access between a newly built shelter and a boat landing on Nelson Lake.

- Minot Indoor Rodeo Inc., a nonprofit comprised of members of the two Minot Y’s Men’s clubs, is seeking $75,000 to help build a $185,000 Wildlife Education and Recreation Center at Triangle Y Camp for youths on the banks of Lake Sakakawea south of Garrison.

The advisory board will review the first round of applications the week of Jan. 13. The Industrial Commission, which consists of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, will consider the advisory board’s recommendations at its January meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

Fine said she hopes to post the first round of applications to the fund’s website, www.nd.gov/ndic/outdoor-infopage.htm, by Dec. 4.

Readers can reach Forum News Service reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com