- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, July 8, 2015

What worked in ‘30s still works

When large portions of the nation became a dust bowl in the 1930s one of the solutions was shelterbelts. The shelterbelts, or windbreaks, served several purposes.

They provided protection from erosion; increased crop productivity; gave shelter to livestock and helped improve weight gain; and boosted energy efficiency of homes.

Obviously trees planted in the ‘30s got old and had to be replaced. Across the Great Plains it’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of those plantings are in poor to fair condition.

Over the years there have been programs to renew and replace aging shelterbelts. A recent plan by the North Dakota Forest Service has the potential to encourage new “forests” across the state.

The money, $1.8 million, is coming from the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund. Those interested in participating can fill out an application on the forest service’s website. Next, a consultation will be scheduled with the landowner, a forester and Soil Conservation District technician.

The program is for renewing existing plantings, not starting new ones or replacing trees removed in previous years. Landowners will identify trees for removal, get them removed and plant substitute trees and shrubs. The Forest Service will provide as much as $10,000 per successful application with the landowner matching the grant amount and the match can include a land rental credit.

The money allotted isn’t a lot considering about 55,000 miles of shelterbelts and tree rows have been planted in North Dakota since the 1930s. But we have learned how to do things better over the years. Diversity is important, recommended trees and shrubs will vary by soil type and location across the state. So the survival rate should be higher and they should live longer. And there is a global warming benefit by which trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and emit oxygen.

The shelterbelts also provide habitat for wildlife and a place for hunting.

It’s a good use of the Outdoor Heritage Fund and if successful could possibly be renewed.

What was started 80 or more years ago has been improved and has as much value, if not more, as in the ‘30s. Hopefully landowners will make use of the forest service program.


Minot Daily News, Minot, July 8, 2015

Don’t set a bad precedent

Some mechanism will be found to avoid the collapse of Greece’s economy, though it appears to be teetering on the brink. European nations and possibly the United States will devise some strategy to help Athens avoid defaulting entirely on its debts.

But the weekend vote by Greeks to reject a bailout offered by the European Union reflects a dangerous game of “chicken” being played by that country’s people, encouraged by their government. It is a stance the United States - as hypocritical as it may be for us - should not reward.

The EU’s offer came with strings attached in the form of additional credit in exchange for fiscal austerity action by Greece. But that nation’s voters were unwilling to accept conditions such as cuts in government spending, including changes in Greece’s public pension system.

Greece’s unemployment rate, slightly above 25 percent, has contributed to its fiscal woes. But so have lavish social programs, including a pension program under which about 75 percent of people retire by age 61.

Some entitlement reforms simply must be adopted by the Greek government. U.S. officials should not participate in any bailout that lacks such fiscal responsibility requirements.

Again, that position may seem strange for Americans, who have failed to make needed reforms in our own entitlements. But a no-conditions bailout of Greece would set a bad precedent, leading to much more trouble in the future.


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