- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A program that provides grants to conservation projects across North Dakota likely will get only half of the money it expected to receive during the two-year budget cycle, due to the oil slowdown.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund gets a percentage of oil and gas production taxes. The goal is to restore land affected by energy production and to develop such things as fish and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas.

The 2013 Legislature established the fund. In its first two years it provided about $23.5 million for more than 80 projects. The state Industrial Commission headed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple awards grants based on recommendations from a 16-member advisory board, which consists of agriculture, energy, conservation, business and recreation officials.

The program was expected to get about $27 million for 2015-2017. The amount is now estimated at slightly more than $13 million, The Bismarck Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1QZC3CW ).

Potential projects will be scrutinized and prioritized more stringently due to the drop, according to Advisory Board Chairman Jim Melchior.

“We’re always searching for the project that most clearly follows what the Legislature had in mind,” he said. “We’re still going to hold the grant rounds, and be a bit more selective.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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