As of today, July 3rd, 2013, of the 21 counties affected by the White River National Blueway, 17 have signed resolutions against it, and they are or have been sent up the chain to the DOI, Dept of Army, USDA and the federal and state level representatives. We lack Greene, Ripley, Iron and Carter counties.

Here is an article that appeared in the Springfield News Leader on the Blueway:

Officeholders urged to act on Blueways

Landowners fear federal oversight as part of Bluew...
Landowners fear federal oversight as part of Bluew…: Local landowners fear the National Blueways designation of Missouri’s White River Basin opens the door to unneeded federal oversight
Written by
Kathryn Wall and Rance Burger
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the National Blueways initiative 'gives no new power or land to the federal government.' The White River watershed also includes the James River.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the National Blueways initiative ‘gives no new power or land to the federal government.’ The White River watershed also includes the James River. / News-Leader file photo

Inside
Arkansas agencies ask that Blueways designation be revoked. Page 4A

People opposed to a federal waterways designation urged local officeholders to act Thursday, but the issue might be moot if Arkansas leaders get their way.

The controversy stems from the naming of the White River Basin as a National Blueways System.

The White River Basin spans Missouri and Arkansas, but it was only Arkansas officials who applied for the designation for the whole area.

That left Missouri officials playing catch-up when the designation was announced for the whole basin.

But now, Arkansas officials are backpedaling, and asking that the designation be removed entirely in reaction to recent controversy. It’s unclear how quickly that decision could be made.

While proponents insist the designation does not include more regulation or authority, landowners fear the program would invite unwanted federal oversight.

Joe Pitts, the executive director of the James River Basin Partnership, told Greene County commissioners on Wednesday that the designation, to his knowledge, amounted to little more than a gold star.

“All of the agencies involved stated multiple times and in unequivocal language that the Blueways designation was simply a way to recognize the high quality of the White River ecosystem and the decades of quality work between the public and private agency partnerships,” he said.

He said the program doesn’t give the federal government any more regulatory authority or funding for new projects.

But landowners who met with both Christian and Greene County officials Thursday feared that generic language from the documents outlining the program and the fact that the federal government is involved at all could have unintended consequences.

Bill Gracy, speaking at the Greene County meeting, dissected line-by-line the paperwork involved with the program.

He questioned the generic goals and whether the federal government would encroach on landowners’ rights.

“There’s wide-open windows in this situation that no one knows anything about,” Gracy said.

 

They fear federal authorities will use such authority to force landowners to give up or otherwise alter their land.

State Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa, feels it is important for property owners to maintain control and care over land near a river in order to maintain the property’s worth.

“Some of the most valuable land is what they’re talking about. Those bottom lands and lands by the water (are) the things that control the destiny in this county and in our state,” Morris said during the Christian County meeting.

State Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa, objects to the fact that the National Blueways System was created by a secretarial order from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“The biggest concern about this is that this is an administratively driven designation. This isn’t something that comes from the legislature, so your elected representatives are not the ones creating this,” Elmer said.

Elmer doesn’t feel that larger governments should tell people who own agricultural lands along a river how to care for their own property.

“No federal agency, no state agency should ever intervene with your personal property rights,” Elmer said.

While Christian County leaders approved a resolution opposing the federal designation, Greene County commissioners said they’re taking the matter under advisement and will make a decision at a later date.

That decision might not matter, however, if the Arkansas group succeeds in getting the designation erased.

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