About a week ago I wrote about an on-going controversy over three Ducks Unlimited employees who work for the federal government’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Many people – including this observer – see that as inappropriate given that Ducks Unlimited is an organization with a very real political agenda (they spent millions trying to pass Measure 5 in 2014) and the government is supposed to be neutral.
The NRCS and Ducks Unlimited claim that the employees have no influence on policy, but that’s a little hard to believe. They work as biologists and they produce findings and data which are used to make policy. It’s clear they could be having an impact on policy, and even if they aren’t, there’s the appearance of impropriety.
Now here’s some additional news about those employees. It turns out that the State of North Dakota is picking up part of the tab. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department pays a portion of the salary for the three DU employees who work for the NRCS.
“For two of those positions we provide up to $12,500 per year,” Kevin Kading, the Private Lands Section Leader for Game and Fish, told North Dakota Grain Growers Executive Director Dan Wogsland in an email earlier this week. “One position we provide up to $11,222.17 per year.”
Mr. Wogsland was kind enough to share this correspondence with me today. His group has been one of several that have been outspoken in their criticism of the relationship between Ducks Unlimited and the NRCS.
Anyway, the state is paying over $36,000 per year to these employees, and while not a large number in terms of the overall Game and Fish budget or the state budget in general, you again have to wonder why our tax dollars are going to support the employees of a private organization.
Should the State of North Dakota be paying employees of Planned Parenthood? Or the National Rifle Association? Or the Heritage Foundation? The answer is of course not. Those are private organizations, and regardless of whether or not we agree or disagree with their agendas, they shouldn’t be getting tax dollars.
Nor should Ducks Unlimited.