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Conservation Groups Eye Change to North Dakota Land Ban

Conservation Groups Eye Change to North Dakota Land Ban
Poll shows 85% are okay with landowners selling to conservation groups.

North Dakota conservation groups have released a poll showing 85% of respondents support allowing landowners to sell their property to conservation organization.

The state's anti-corporate farming law prevents land from being sold to conservation groups, unless the sale if first approve by a special lands committee made up of state, conservation and agricultural representations. The committee has blocked several sales to conservation groups in the past year.

Conducted by independent firm hired by Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Dakota and the North Dakota Natural, the poll also indicates that 83% of those at least somewhat reliant on agriculture favor allowing landowners to sell their property to conservation organizations.

In addition, three-in-five North Dakota voters support allowing conservation organizations to use permanent easements as a strategy for conserving natural areas, water, and wildlife habitat in the state. More than 60 percent of voters support conservation easements, or voluntary land preservation agreements, that allow landowners to continue to own, work and maintain their property but ensure that the land is not developed. 

"There seems to be a disconnect between what North Dakotans want and the state allows, especially regarding laws that keep landowners from conserving their property with a permanent conservation easement or by selling it to a conservation group," says Steve Adair, director of Ducks Unlimited's Great Plains Office in Bismarck.

Peggy Ladner, director of The Nature Conservancy in North Dakota, said she hopes the results released today will prompt state leaders to step up and provide the tools needed to conserve North Dakota's best lands and waters. 

"We're hopeful that state lawmakers will recognize that this is both what the public wants and what is best for North Dakota," she said. "By conserving key lands and waters, we protect the quality and quantity of our water supply, mitigate flooding, control erosion, preserve grazing lands and ensure the state remains a great place to live, work and explore."

The telephone poll of 400 likely voters from throughout North Dakota was conducted between April 6 and April 8 by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican political and public affairs research firm, and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, a Democratic research and public policy analysis firm.

Source: Ducks Unlimited

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