- Associated Press - Monday, June 4, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A program that provides funds for conservation projects in North Dakota may be doling out $4.6 million to government agencies, nonprofits and other groups for everything from native prairie restoration to gardens and trails.

The three-member, all-Republican North Dakota Industrial Commission will consider the 13 proposals on Tuesday. Gov. Doug Burgum is chairman of the commission, which regulates North Dakota’s oil and gas industry. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring are its other members.

The North Dakota Outdoor Heritage fund, which the Legislature established in 2013, may receive up to $20 million annually from oil and gas 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.

A 12-member advisory board selected the projects from an initial pool of 21 applications totaling $7.2 million. The advisory board consists of agriculture, energy, conservation, business and recreation officials.

North Dakota Natural Resources Trust Inc., a Bismarck-based nonprofit, and the Dunn County Soil Conservation District submitted the largest grant request, at $2.1 million. The groups propose to use the money for such things as grass and crop seeding, water enhancements and other projects in western North Dakota.

The second-biggest request is from Audubon Dakota, which wants more than $943,000 to fund native prairie restoration, invasive species control and other projects in Stutsman County, in east-central North Dakota.

Other proposals include seeding more than 700 acres in Bismarck, Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo with native grasses and wildflowers and a $33,000 project in Jamestown that includes a “sensory” garden.

Industrial Commission Executive Director Karlene Fine said 117 projects have been financed at more than $32 million since the Legislature created the fund five years ago.

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