State Senator & new Assistant Majority Leader Dan Lederman put out an alert to his constituents this weekend concerning a ‘federal land grab’ in Nebraska & South Dakota. Admittedly, I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning. But when I did – I’m surprised that more legislators and county officials haven’t noticed it yet, as the area covered appears to stretch across 6 counties in South Dakota!
Union County, Clay County, Yankton County, Bon Homme County, Charles Mix County, and just the tip of Gregory County all fall within the proposed conservation areas as noted:
Our Federal Government is threatening to take 90,000 acres of privately held property in South Dakota and Nebraska under the Land Protection Plan (LPP) for the Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Area. You only have until September 30, 2013 to voice your opinion about this threat to private property rights.
I encourage you to read about the Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Area, http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=40350, which impacts private property owners in southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. Viable agricultural land is threatened in this area. Taxable private property is threatened in this area.
Our Federal Government has failed to manage the public land it has under its control. I do not believe that we should give them more authority over our private property until they can manage the land and waterways we already expect them to manage.
In creating these areas, we would work with willing private landowners, local communities, and other conservation entities to conserve important wildlife habitats, increase quality recreational opportunities, preserve sensitive cultural sites, and maintain sustainable farming and ranching operations in the region.
And you can read the draft environmental statement, and land protection plan here, which contains such notes for their land acquisition goals such as:
- We propose to use conservation easements on 80 percent of the lands conserved to reduce impacts on local tax bases, while still achieving the objectives and strategies identified in section 3.8.
- Achieving conservation actions would be contingent on willing landowners and project funding. Accordingly, there can be no estimated completion date, but for the purposes of this analysis we have assumed the conservation areas can be fully realized over a period of 50 years.
- If the LPP is approved, the FWS would develop an interim conceptual management plan for fee-title lands until a CCP can be completed. The interim plan would help guide potential management of acquired parcels in the short term and would include items such as interim compatibility determinations
The question remains whether or not the benefits would outweigh the negative effects, a few of this were also described in the .pdf document:
The increased protection of riparian and upland habitats would reduce fragmentation, increase water quality, maintain current levels of carbon sequestration, and maintain the area’s rich biological diversity. Management of lands for healthy rivers, grasslands and forests would benefit ranching operations but may reduce the potential production of agricultural crops in the area, although most areas to be protected are not well suited for crop production. In addition, the acquisition of land in fee-title would cause a direct decline in taxes paid to counties.
Local governments would see a direct loss in property tax revenue, but a decreased cost in expenditures.
As noted, individuals who are affected by this taking only have another 2 weeks – until September 30, 2013 to comment on the Federal Government’s plans. And they can voice their opinion at this link: http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=52636
The question is whether or not this is a sufficient amount of time for affected landowners to be informed of the action, much less to form an opinion on whether or not they want their land use modified for all perpetuity.
And more importantly, there’s the basic premise of whether South Dakotans want the federal government to have more control over South Dakota Lands, when their track record isn’t necessarily great on items such as prairie dog management on their own property, and trying to sell us back our water.