Organizers finalize ‘Future of Hunting’ conference agenda

Organizers of the second annual “Future of Hunting in North Dakota” conference have finalized the schedule for the upcoming event, scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the Doublewood Inn in Bismarck.

The conference is sponsored by the North Dakota Wildlife Federation and the North Dakota chapter of the Wildlife Society.

According to Mike McEnroe, president of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, the first conference last March focused on improving habitat, increasing access and passing the Clean Water and Outdoor Heritage measure as crucial to maintaining the future of hunting in the state.

All have gone backwards since then, McEnroe said.

“The state’s sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts have lost 650,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program lands this fall, Game and Fish Department’s Private Lands Open to Sportsmen has lost 300,000 acres in the last several years and the Outdoor Heritage amendment was derailed by fraud,” McEnroe said.

Scott McLeod, president of the North Dakota chapter of The Wildlife Society, said the goal of the upcoming conference will be to compile recommendations for reversing the trend — possibly in time for final discussions on the Farm Bill and before North Dakota’s legislative session begins in January.

The first evening of the conference includes registration and a social with cash bar from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Here’s the agenda for Dec. 1:

8-8:30 a.m.: Welcome and introductory comments, Scott McLeod, president or Todd Frerichs, president-elect of the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and Mike McEnroe, president of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation.

8:30-9:00 a.m.: Jennifer Heglund, deputy state conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bismarck, “Status of Conservation Reserve Program and other conservation programs in the lame duck session of Congress.”

9-9:30 a.m.: Randy Kreil, chief, Wildlife Division and/or Kevin Kading, private land coordinator, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, “Status and Changes for the Private Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) Program.”

9:30-10 a.m.: Keith Trego, executive director, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, and Steve Adair, director of operations, Ducks Unlimited, Bismarck, “Legislative Opportunities for the Clean Water and Outdoor Heritage Amendment.”

10-10:30 a.m.: Break.

10:30 a.m.- noon: Break-out into three strategy sessions: Develop action items to move forward on CRP and improved habitat, more access for sportsmen and women, and a legislative program to achieve wildlife, hunting, and habitat needs and goals in North Dakota.

Noon to 1 p.m.: Lunch.

1-2:30 p.m.: Presentation of action items from each group to whole conference and develop a consensus or strategy to protect and promote hunting in North Dakota .

2:30-3 p.m.: Conclusions, unfinished business, and thoughts on future conferences.

The conference has a $10 registration fee to defray costs, and coffee, refreshments and Saturday’s lunch are provided to all participants. Info: (888) 827-2557, ndwf@ndwf.org or McEnroe at memcenroe@midco.net.

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