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Advisory board meetings key part of the job

The first North Dakota Game and Fish Department advisory board meeting I attended was in Kindred -- a few years back when I was in college at NDSU. A couple of friends and I decided to attend.

The first North Dakota Game and Fish Department advisory board meeting I attended was in Kindred -- a few years back when I was in college at NDSU. A couple of friends and I decided to attend.

Walking into the hall in Kindred, I was amazed to see Lloyd Jones, then the director of the Game and Fish Department, in attendance. I elbowed my buddy in the ribs, whispered and pointed, trying my best not to draw attention.

"You see that guy over there, that's the Game and Fish director," I said, elevating him to semi-celebrity status.

Little did I know that a few years down the road, advisory board meetings would become an important part of my job.

Why an Advisory Board

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North Dakota's Century Code requires the governor to appoint a citizen North Dakota Game and Fish Deptartment advisory board.

The state is divided into eight advisory districts with a representative serving each area. Four members must be nominated by a wildlife or conservation organization and four nominated from an agriculture or farm group.

State law requires each advisory board member to hold two meetings per year. This gives the public an opportunity to interact with department staff in the spring and fall.

Issues from fishing and hunting to trapping and boating regulations make up most meeting agendas.

Spring meetings

The agenda and format for the regular spring meetings scheduled from Monday through May 24 were developed to gather input on three specific subjects:

1) The possibility of an earlier waterfowl opener this fall.

2) Possible changes in nonresident waterfowl regulations this fall.

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3) Future management of nonresident waterfowl hunters.

Attendees will notice a change in format to an open house style, rather than a set agenda of department speakers followed by audience input.

Changes in format are nothing new as I recall meetings carried over the state's Interactive Video Network, among other methods. While the department tried different formats, a sparse turn-out was often the result.

Sportsmen have urged Game and Fish to continue experimenting to generate more interaction between citizens and department officials. This prompted an open house format for this spring.

Officials from the department will be on hand to visit with anglers, hunters, farmers and anyone who wants to attend.

Game and Fish officials will also accept written testimony on previously mentioned points. In addition, internet users can submit input via e-mail from the department's Web site.

The entire process gives citizens a voice in shaping the future of hunting in North Dakota.

As sure as hunters will disagree over the merits of Browning or Benelli, citizens will debate which meeting formats work, and which topics are important. The best way to find out is to participate.

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For complete listing of the upcoming spring advisory board meetings, see the Outdoors Calenda on this page.

Leier, an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at (701) 277-0719

or at dleier@state.nd.us

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