BEATRICE – The Gage County Board has voted not to support a proposed Kansas-Nebraska Heritage area that would include the county.
The board’s vote on the resolution was 6-1 Wednesday, after it heard from a key Kansas opponent of the plan.
Lyons County, Kansas resident Angel Cushing has promoted opposition to the proposal which would include several Kansas and Nebraska Counties. She contends counties were not asked ahead of time whether they would support the plan…which is preceded by a feasibility study, then congressional action.
"We now have 33 counties that have passed resolutions that have opposed this, out of 49. The question I would ask of Kansas-Nebraska Heritage Area partnership...they clearly have not met the guidelines of this, with that much opposition. So, why are they continuing to pursue it?"
Discussion recently arose over the proposed NHA over fear of federal taking of land and environmental regulations that could affect farming.
Gage County Planning Commission member Terry Acton researched the proposed heritage area, which he has opposed.
"I question the level of return per exposure and tax dollars spent. In my opinion, it looks like renting pasture for grazing, but it has a bad fence. Sounds like a good idea, but it has exposure to potential problems. I think the same can be said for NHAs."
The lone opposition vote on the resolution came from Supervisor Don Schuller, who said the issue has been wrought with fear and the decision on the resolution, jumps the gun.
"The arguments that we've heard here in opposition to it are, for the most part, speculation and fear. One of the things that Terry (Acton) expressed is that it is his fear that due to Biden Administration and the current political climate, that there is going to be taking of our private land ownership rights. By the time this goes to Congress, Biden most likely won't even be President....and the whole issue will have moved on. We're discussing voting it out of our county...and it just seems very premature, to me."
Laureen Riedesul, a member of Gage County Heritage Preservation, says she hopes the opposition to the specific Kansas-Nebraska Heritage Area doesn’t mean the county would object to a smaller, targeted Heritage area that could positively impact Gage County. She urged a county board vote against the resolution.
"This may not be the right plan. I sit here in awe of the study and detail that's already gone in. I haven't been paying that much attention to it, quite honestly, because it was just a feasibility study, just a plan. I didn't realized how quickly that can become something else. I really want to encourage you not to vote against the idea of a heritage area. I honestly think we can do it better...it may not be this plan. But, it is so important to us."
The vote by the supervisors Wednesday comes as Nebraska residents are being asked by the Governor to oppose the 30-by-30 proposal of the Biden Administration, aimed at conserving 30-percent of the nation’s land and water resources by the year 2030.