Gage County Board on record, opposing 30-by-30 initiative

BEATRICE – Gage County has become the 53rd county in Nebraska to formally oppose a Biden Administration initiative aimed at conserving 30-percent of the nation’s lands and waters, by the year 2030.

The Gage County Board voted 5-1, with one member absent Wednesday, in opposition to the concept. Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says there’s been a lack of details about it.

"Nebraska is primarily a privately-owned state. States like Utah...I don't know the exact percentage but I know its' over 80-percent. It may be over 90-percent, is public....states like Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska...a lot of public land already. But, Nebraska is not on that side of things."

Supervisors heard from Cherry County Commissioner Tanya Storer, who has helped lead opposition to the Biden initiative in Nebraska. Cherry County formally opposed it, last April.  "We felt it was important to be proactive and make it clear that we were opposing efforts that would restrict land use in any way, from a federal overreach standpoint."

Supporters of the resolution see it as a statement of position though it does not carry any legal weight. The Biden Administration has maintained its goal is not to take away private property rights. Critics say the administration does not adequately define conservation and the administration acknowledges there are constitutional protections against seizing private land.

Gage County Board member Emily Haxby supported the resolution.  "When we talk about this resolution, it's more of a statement, like we're watching. We don't oppose any CRP programs that farmers already utilized. We like those. But we want a sunset date on those and just that we're watching that these aren't going to be misused."

Gage County Supervisor Don Schuller, who voted against the resolution Wednesday, said the Governor’s campaign against the Biden initiative is “full of misinformation.”

"Designed to create division and fear. This is completely for partisan political purposes.....end of my comment."

Schuller points out current voluntary conservation programs already have sunset dates. Tiemann says the board’s resolution does not oppose private conservation efforts.

"Be it Alaska or anywhere else, a lot of that is public land, and if we put permanent easements in place, we don't know what that will do. A permanent conservation easement may say that this is no longer usable land. Managing conservation is really important, but I think it's also important to use your resources, when you need to."

The Gage County Board also recently went on record opposing a National Heritage Area that would cover several Nebraska and Kansas Counties.