DUNSEITH, N.D. | Budget cuts in North Dakota are causing a tourist attraction that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border to initiate new fundraising efforts.
The International Peace Garden is losing about $48,000 in operating grants since the declining revenues in the state have led to 10 percent budget cuts this funding cycle, The Bismarck Tribune reported .
"The accessibility, the availability of funds from the state of North Dakota was easier during the oil boom," said CEO Garry Enns. "We're suffering a bit from the economic realities we're dealing with today."
The cuts come as drought conditions have affected the garden, requiring more irrigation.
The garden's staff is asking the public for donations and encouraging people to purchase annual or lifetime memberships.
"We have begun to ask our visitors and our friends to be a bit more generous than just paying the gate fee," Enns said.
Enns said the revenue the garden gains from gate fees, gift shop sales and rent from the International Music Camp isn't enough to cover all of its expenses. The annual operating budget is about $1.5 million.
Tyrone Langager, a past president of the garden's board of directors, said the garden hasn't engaged in formal fundraising efforts on the regional and national level in the past.
"We're just trying to put together a program where we could get another source of underwriting that would allow for expansion of the garden and for enhancement of the facilities," Langager said.
An estimated 75,000 people visited the garden in 2016 and staff hopes to exceed that number in 2017.
The garden was dedicated in 1932 and is a tribute to the peace between the U.S. and Canada.
"I think the Peace Garden has obviously a special place in the heart of North Dakotans," Langager said. "It just puts the human spirit at ease when you're there."