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Meeting on natural resources plan set for Wednesday in Mitchell

A meeting tonight in Mitchell is designed to gather information on revising a state conservation plan.

The meeting will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Highland Conference Center.

Bill Smith, conservation program administrator for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, said the department and its partners are seeking public input as they draft a new five-year plan. The last one was adopted in 2007, Smith said Tuesday.

The meeting seeks public comment on the Coordinated Plan for Natural Resources Conservation, he said, explaining that "it's a plan that helps direct activities for our Conservation Commission grants and loans program to conservation districts."

The grant program issues $500,000 to districts in the state annually.

A revolving loan program also provides money for projects. It has 15 outstanding loans totaling more than $104,000 and a cash balance of $70,000, according to Cec Johnson, a natural resource specialist with the Department of Agriculture.

Smith said the meetings provide information for the commission.

"It will help us set goals and objectives for how to do our grants and loans program," he said. "Some of our goals and objectives are very large. It's going to take a lot of partners to meet those objectives."

Brian Scott, of the Department of Agriculture, will provide a brief overview of the goals and objectives, followed by an open house to allow people to ask questions and gather more information. Refreshments will be served.