With or without federal funds, RC & D vows to continue

Staff reports

The federal government may have eliminated funding for the RC & D program, but that doesn’t mean that RC & D Councils can’t continue to assist with projects in their service areas.

After 35 years of partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Northern Plains RC & D Council finds itself without a paid coordinator to provide assistance to land management, community development, water management and land conservation projects in north central North Dakota.

The Northern Plains RC & D Council, headquartered in Devils Lake, is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that serves six counties and two native tribes in north central North Dakota: Ramsey, Benson, Eddy, Towner, Cavalier, and Rolette counties; and the Spirit Lake Nation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

As a private organization, RC & D still exists, with a mission of “building partnerships which promote leadership development and the wise use of natural resources.” This mission is not taken lightly by the 23 volunteer members who serve on the council.

In the wake of losing their salaried coordinator, many of the members met recently to discuss the close-out of federal funds for the program. As the meeting progressed, it was evident that it would not be the last time members would convene to discuss projects for which their communities needed assistance.

Paul Overby, a long-time supporter of RC & D and volunteer from Rolette County, expressed his desire that members hold planning sessions to determine the future direction of the council. He stated, “We are entering a new era of learning how to recreate programs and organizations based on real need, not simply using easy federal money borrowed from future generations.  Those organizations who have a real purpose and a plan will survive and go on to do more good works.”

Communities in the Northern Plains RC & D Council area can expect that this grass roots group will create a new plan and continue to provide assistance for important projects. Local sponsors, which consist of counties, cities, soil conservation districts, tribes, and higher education institutions are encouraged to pay their membership dues for 2011 in order that the council can fulfill its current obligations and look to the future.

As stated on the North Dakota Association for RC & D council’s website,  HYPERLINK "http://www.ndrcd.org" www.ndrcd.org, “local people are best able to determine needs and create solutions for their community. The strength of RC&D is in the commitment of people to solve their own problems on a grass roots level.”

For more information about Northern Plains RC & D Council, contact President Robert Curl at (701) 968-3736 or Secretary Amy Wobbema at (701) 302-0578. You may also email the council at nprcd@gondtc.com.