May 21, 2009

DU disputes committee’s decision

By Don Winter

The rights of the individual versus societal good? That question has been asked for as long as humankind has attempted to govern itself. But it seems in recent times to have become a true hot button topic. Turn on the television and it’s right in front of you. Grab a newspaper, or log on to the internet and you’ll find America abuzz with debate on the role of government as it relates to the decisions of private entities or individuals. While many of us in North Dakota hope to stay isolated from the national trend, we unfortunately seem to get drawn into the discussion. Even here in McLean County the argument raises its ugly head, as a fire storm of debate grows about the right of the conservation group Ducks Unlimited to purchase land in Mercer Township of McLean County. The discussion began when it was announced this spring that Ducks Unlimited wished to purchase approximately 320 acres of property from Ted Tishinski, of Irvine, CA. The property is located in Mercer Township in the southeastern quadrant of the county, and consists of approximately 30 acres of wetlands, 80 acres of native prairie, and 210 acres of land in the Conservation Reserve Program. Under state law before such purchases are allowed to go forward they must have a hearing by the State Department of Agriculture’s Natural Areas Acquisition Advisory Committee. After a public hearing this committee then makes a recommendation to the governor who issues the final decision on whether the proposal may go forward. On May 5, in conjunction with the regularly scheduled McLean County Commission meeting , the NAAAC hearing was held. The committee chaired by ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, also consisted of representatives of the ND Department of Game and Fish, ND Department of Parks and Recreation, the ND Forest Department, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Farm Bureau, and North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. A spirited debate occurred as representatives of Ducks Unlimited faced questions from the NAAAC committee, County Commission Members, and members of the general public. Throughout the hearing Ducks Unlimited held that the central issue involving the sale was the rights of a willing seller and a willing purchaser.

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