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N.D. Game and Fish Department in sound financial shape

The budget issues facing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aren't a problem for the agency's North Dakota counterparts. According to Roger Rostvet, deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, the agency i...

The budget issues facing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aren't a problem for the agency's North Dakota counterparts.

According to Roger Rostvet, deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, the agency is running with a full staff of 157 employees.

Comparing the two agencies is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, though. Unlike the DNR, the Game and Fish Department, as the name suggests, focuses exclusively on managing fish and game resources.

There are separate departments for programs such as forestry, parks and recreation. In Minnesota, those programs all are part of the DNR.

Like the DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife, though, the Game and Fish Department is funded almost exclusively by hunting and fishing license sales and federal aid such as the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson programs.

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Annual license sales have been steady to increasing, Rostvet said, and so has federal aid.

The Game and Fish Department is requesting about $64.7 million from the state Legislature for the biennium beginning July 1 and ending June 20, 2013. That's a 7 percent increase from the current biennium, Rostvet said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard the request in early January but no further action has been taken.

The Game and Fish Department also maintains a reserve fund that sits at $27 million, Rostvet said, which helps maintain stability if expenses exceed license revenues.

"We're kind of a conservative bunch here," he said.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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