Billy Long

If you thought the battle over the federal Blueways initiative was over, think again.

Reps. Billy Long, R-Springfield, and Jason Smith, R-Salem, have asked leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee to hold a field hearing examining the scope of the program and why the White River was initially included.

The Obama administration launched the Blueways program to promote a “whole river” approach to conservation, recreation and economic opportunities.

The White River won a Blueways designation in January after a coalition of 26 national and local groups—from the National Wildlife Refuge Association to the Arkansas Canoe Club to the Missouri Department of Conservation—applied for the status.

But opposition to the designation mushroomed, with local residents fearing it would lead to increased federal regulation and an infringement on property rights.

The Department of Interior rescinded the designation last week, after a request from Smith and others.

Now, Smith and Long want a House hearing—to be convened in Missouri—to “learn how the National Blueways System designation was initially imposed on the White River watershed in Missouri and how future designations can be prevented.”

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