Fourth Future of Hunting Conference set for Dec. 14 in Bismarck

The fourth Future of Hunting in North Dakota conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to  3 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Ramada Inn in Bismarck.

According to Mike McEnroe of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation who sent out a news release announcing the event, the consensus during the first Future conference was that habitat, access, and the funding initiated measure were the top three priorities for sportsmen and women and outdoor enthusiasts to pursue.

At Future 3, the group concentrated their efforts on the Farm Bill, the Conservation Reserve Program, conservations provisions and compliance within the Farm Bill, and on nominations for the Advisory Committee for the legislatively created Outdoor Heritage Fund. The group’s nominations were accepted for the OHF, but letters to the state’s congressional delegation on Farm Bill issues were largely ignored, McEnroe said.

“Since May, we have the establishment of the OHF Advisory Committee, the start of a new initiated measure to create a stronger, better funded and less restricted conservation fund, and no new Farm Bill,” McEnroe said. “There is time to make our views and recommendation to our congressional delegation about what sportsmen want in the Farm Bill; Sen. Hoeven is on the conference committee. We should make recommendations for big, landscape level conservation projects to the existing OHF advisory committee. They will have $17 million for conservation projects. There is a new Clean Water, Parks and Wildlife Conservation Fund proposed for the November 2014 ballot.

“The focus of the Future 4 discussions we be actions we can take as individuals and wildlife and conservation organizations to make hunting and habitat protection a priority with our elected and appointed officials.”

The timing of the upcoming conference coincides with big changes to the hunting landscape. North Dakota deer permits are at the lowest level in 30 years, upland bird numbers are down, acreage and acreage has declined in the state’s Private Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program. At the same time, CRP acreage continues to decline, grasslands, trees and shelterbelts are being plowed and  burned, and sloughs and wetlands are being drained.

All of these developments are contrary to the priorities of habitat and access proposed at the first Future conference, McEnroe said.

The fourth Future of Hunting in North Dakota conference is open to the public, and McEnroe encourages participants to bring a friend or hunting partner. There will be a $10 registration to help cover coffee, snacks, and the noon lunch. Registration will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. the day of the conference. Please RSVP to McEnroe at memcenroe@midco.net or by calling (701) 224-8335.

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