Open Fields -- A Bridge To Nowhere

Inside Dakota Ag

USDA is going to give North Dakota $300,000 to pay farmers under a new program to open their land to hunters and anglers. I say give the money back.

Published on: October 6, 2010

I say give the money back.

USDA is going to award North Dakota $300,000 soon under the new $50-million Open Fields program. In the spirit of a “Bridge To Nowhere,” North Dakota ought to give the money back.

Open Fields is a new program – dreamed up by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and others in 2003 – to pay farmers and ranchers to open private land to the public for hunting, fishing, bird watching and other wildlife activites.

It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t make much sense when the nation faced a $14 trillion deficit.

Besides, we already have “open field" programs.  One is  called SIAATLFP” -- stop-in-and-ask-the-landowner-for-permission.”

Another is called “parks” – as in city, county, state and national parks.

And we have a payment program – it’s called fee hunting.

North Dakota and South Dakota even have their own Open Field programs. But these programs are funded by hunting and fishing fees.

If outdoor enthusiasts want to pay more for licenses and send some of their entertainment dollars to farmers and ranchers so even more people can have access to land, more power to them.

But I don’t hear anyone saying they want to pay more taxes.

Send the Open Fields money back.