Hijacking the heartland, by Doreen Hannes

Does any of this sound familiar?  If so is it time to take some action individually to protect your rights?  Much like the intended and not yet imposed Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.  It is not too late to educate yourself and speak out!  



By Doreen Hannes June 18, 2013 NewsWithViews.com

A massive land grab is underway in Missouri and Arkansas. NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) are lining up other states to be included in the Department of Interior’s “National Blueway System” designation. The Blueways System stems from Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors” Presidential Memorandum, under which Secretary of Interior Salazar issued Secretarial Order #3321. (scroll down)

The first Blueway designation occurred in May 2012, across the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. That watershed encompasses 7.2 million acres. The “White River National Blueway” is 17.8 million acres, and includes 60 counties across Missouri and Arkansas. Not one elected official from these 60 counties knew a thing about the designation, or the plans put forward by the “nominating committee.”

Private property rights advocates knew nothing about the plan either, and when they’d found out about it, the designation had already been assigned. The “stakeholders,” NONE of whom represent or are actually private land holders in the area, have put together a significant list of “Strategic Objectives” to control the use of land within the 21,000 square mile area.

In the Memorandum of Understanding including the triumvirate of Federal Agencies designating and collaborating on the “National Blueway System” it states:

"Nothing in this MOU is intended to authorize or affect the use of private property or is intended to be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory authority.”

Yet when you examine the Nomination pdf that the “stakeholders” put forth to acquire the designation, there is no way the objectives can be met without regulation.

First, let’s have a look just who the non-governmental stakeholders are and then what they propose to accomplish with this Blueway.

We have only two entities involved from Missouri. The Missouri Audubon Society and the Missouri Nature Conservancy along with their sister groups in Arkansas. Then we have some National level groups, being Ducks Unlimited, The National Wildlife Refuge Association, The Conservation Fund, The Arkansas Canoe Club, The Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and two local businesses. No property rights advocates, no land-owner groups, or farm groups and, importantly, no notification duly elected officials in Missouri at all, and only a few cities in 1/3 of the State of Arkansas even heard about this Blueway designation.

Now let’s get to the on the ground effects of the White River Blueway.

The nominating committee, consisting of the groups above and one State agency from Missouri and several from Arkansas, spelled out just what their plans are for the 17.8 million acres in the watershed in the Nominating pdf. Here are a few highlights from that plan, which you can find copied from the document at prcnews.org.

Acquiring at total of 548,500 acres throughout the watershed Placing 10% of farms into conservation programs and develop Conservation Programs for 75% of farms Reducing on farm water consumption by 20% Increase flooding of agricultural land for wildlife habitat by 10% in the first three years and then an additional 20% in 3-7 years Set back levees to restore historic floodplain habitat Control encroachment on existing floodplain Establish a minimum 180 foot wide vegetative buffer zone along all surface water

There is no way this can be achieved without regulations being promulgated to enact it. A 180 foot buffer around all surface water means all streams, seeps, marshes, rivers, ponds and lakes. Thankfully, unless the definition gets changed, this buffer zone doesn’t include wet weather creeks.

The on the ground effects of this plan would absolutely annihilate agriculture within the 60 county area. And agricultural is by far the biggest economic engine within the region. Tourism is far, far behind. And with such a great economy, the idea that tourism is suddenly going to explode as an economic engine is beyond ridiculous. Nonetheless, that is the apparent economic benefit we are all supposed to gain from this designation.

The implementation method of this designation and the “integrated land and water management” that are to be achieved through this designation are far reaching and far from friendly to those who live and work on the land within this watershed. According to a statement from the Secretary of the Interior, the plans are to establish 5 National Blueways per year for the next five years ultimately achieving 25 National Blueways throughout the nation. The very people affected have been completely cut out of the process and left out of the loop on this issue. No public meetings, elected official notification, or Federal Register comments on the viability of a Blueway designation have been offered. Nor are they required. As of January 9th, 60 counties in two States have been enrolled in an internationally driven “conservation estate.”

So if you don’t live within the designated area of the White River National Blueway, don’t worry, it will be coming to your area soon. Minnesota and Indiana have National Blueway nominations under way, and they are not far from being completed. Alabama is taking a novel approach in stringing together a myriad of Blueways and apparently waiting until that is achieved to bring in the final national designation.

The citizens within the White River Blueway designation are mounting a truly grass roots effort to overturn the designation and rescind the specific Memorandum of Understanding that will be used to place the Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy in the position of deciding what, if anything, happens on their land.

The method of implementation and the management processes are so opaque that when a gentleman, striving to get specific information on the White River Blueway, spoke with a representative from the Department of Interior he was told, “We don’t know what’s going on ourselves.” After a day of phone calls where no one could even figure out who might be in charge of anything associated with this Blueway designation, he had to give up with a nebulous hope of his question possibly being answered.....eventually.

We need all boots on the ground to beat this one. If we are successful in turning over this designation, it will be because extraordinary effort was made by a great number of people. To find out how you can help, please go to SecureArkansas.com, PrcNews.org for more information and also contact all the members of the House Natural Resources Committee and ask them to overturn this designation and require the Department of Interior to hold public meetings and notify elected officials about any potential Blueway designation.

Without our knowledge, without our consent, and with out representation in the process, the Blueway designation is unlawful and patently un-Constitutional.

June 21, 2013