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March Mania

OUR OPINION: Use fund for Red River landings

OK, so Dec. 2 would be a tough deadline to meet.

But the deadlines for other rounds of grants from North Dakota's new Outdoor Heritage Fund won't be far off. And in preparation for one of those dates, here's a project that would be fit the fund like a fishing vest and boost the valley's recreational opportunities:

Build a series of canoe and/or boat landings on the Red River.

There's no better way to open up the resource that's waiting in Herald readers' backyard.

The fund will get up to $30 million every two years from North Dakota's oil- and gas-production tax revenue. The first deadline for applications is this coming Monday; as of last week, only four groups had applied, Forum News Service reported.

Depending on what happens this week, that could mean there isn't a big backlog of projects waiting in the wings. In that case, the odds of a Red River boat-landing proposal winning approval are reasonably good.

Here are two other reasons why that may be so:

First, the project would fit the Outdoor Heritage Fund's requirements; second, the difference that the landings would make is huge.

Among the fund's goals is to "provide access for sportsmen," including anglers. That, of course, is exactly what canoe or boat landings would do.

As for need, the Red River has comparatively few landings along its 395-mile length in North Dakota and Minnesota. South of Grand Forks, for example, the closest landing is east of Buxton, N.D. That's a distance of 33 river miles, too long for a casual canoe run.

Virtually everyone who has boated or canoed on the Red River has been impressed. It's a national-class outdoor resource with clean water and undeveloped shores, just waiting for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Well-spaced landings would help bring those good times about.