Nebraska Governor Ricketts cautions against permanent land conservation

PICKRELL - Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts continued his series of townhall meetings Thursday night, railing against the Biden Administration’s so-called 30-by-30 plan.  A townhall meeting drew about 150 mostly supportive audience members at the Four Generations Barn, near Pickrell.
Ricketts calls the 30-by-30 plan, vague.

"What they do say, is they want to work with farmers and ranchers...they want the effort to be local and voluntary. And, here's the disconnect. Because we've had voluntary conservation programs in this country, for decades. The CRP program has been around since 1985. How can they explain that using these voluntary programs that for decades have gotten us to do they think they're going to get to 30% in nine years, with the same programs? That's the disconnect, folks. One of two things...either you're not going to get to 30%, or they're not telling us everything."

The plan, described as a “30-by-30 land grab” by Ricketts, but called voluntary by others….seeks to conserve 30-percent of the nation’s land and water by the year, 2030. Ricketts warns about permanent conservation easements that could be a way to reach the plan’s goal. Ricketts issued an executive order yesterday on that issue.

"To help push back on 30-30, I have directed my agencies that we will not provide resources to assist in permanent conservation easements, with some limited exceptions. We're not going to use our resources to help get land into permanent conservation."

The townhall, which lasted over an hour, had Ricketts take a few questions from audience members.

(Don Schuller) "I can see the reason for concern, but on the other side, the government has put millions, if not billions of dollars into Nebraska and into Gage County...and every farmer here has accepted federal money to do conservation work..whether it's CRP, EQIP, CSP...and it's been beneficial and it's helped the local economy. Aren't we walking a fine line here by opposing something that we do not know for sure? (Ricketts) "Well, I think we absolutely have to oppose the possibility of thirty percent of our land put into conservation. That's why we're here to tell people that if your CRP land is up for renewal, make sure you read the agreement. Don't sign up for anything you don't want to sign up for. (Schuller) "Certainly, and as an NRCS employee, I always advised that with landowners I worked with...that you do not get yourself into something that you do not want to do."

Ricketts says the Biden administration has offered few details about the plan …and said he’s in for a long haul in opposing it. He urged county governments to pass resolutions opposing 30-by-30, review land use policies, work with state and federal leaders, stay connected to what he calls a national effort…and watch for local conservation projects.

Among those in attendance Thursday night, State Senators Myron Dorn and Julie Slama, and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, a Republican candidate for governor.