(Washington) – Some landowners are worried about the federal government’s plan to make the Ozarks part of the National Blueways System. The Department of Interior calls the Blueway an effort to promote river conservation and outdoor recreation, but critics think the government has other plans.
The designation, in part, would establish a minimum 180-foot wide vegetative buffer along all surface water; restore a total of 90,000 acres of farmland to desired conditions for wildlife; and limit the encroachment of humans into the existing flood plains, as well as reduce surface water use by agriculture facilities by 5% in the first 3 years, and 15% afterward. Government officials say that no new power will be given to the federal government or non-governmental agencies, with landowners voluntarily designating sections and allowing easements. They also stress no land is being “confiscated” by the government or other agencies, with no new regulations planned.
People opposed to the designation say that the designation is just another overreach of the federal government into state’s rights and “eminent domain” issues, adding that the restrictions would harm farmers.
Roughly 80 people attended a meeting of the Howell County Commission Thursday concerning the designation, with presenter Roger Pecsok asking the commission to create a resolution opposing the Blueway. Presiding Commissioner Mark Collins said he and the other county commissioners would look at the designation and learn more.
The White River Watershed would be the second Blueway in the nation after the Connecticut River and its watershed was designated in May 2012. The designation covers over 17.8 million acres across the Ozarks, and stretches from Springfield west to Pine Bluff, Arkansas.