• Last modified 23 days ago (June 26, 2024)


Banning conservation program to be discussed

Staff writer

County commissioners once again will talk about a resolution, pushed by commissioner Kent Becker, to prohibit a federal conservation program in Marion County.

Opponents of the so-called 30x30 Program call it “a land grab,” while landowners who want freedom to make decisions for themselves have urged commissioners to give the public ample opportunity to be heard before making a decision.

Commission discussions on the idea of a resolution banning the program in Marion County have taken place since April 29.

At earlier meetings, commissioners talked about having the planning and zoning commission discuss whether such a resolution should be passed. That would allow landowners to have their say.

At Monday’s meeting, however, commissioner Dave Mueller said the commission would put the 30x30 Program on its agenda for a meeting July 15 or 22 and let people make comments directly to commissioners.

He declined to say how much time people would be allowed to speak.

Landowner Steve Schmidt, who encouraged commissioners to allow the public as much input as they want, had this to say after Monday’s meeting:

“Based on my almost 25 years experience, I can tell you that the National Historic Trails program is not a vehicle to facilitate a federal land grab, regardless of what some may want to believe.

“The county, Santa Fe Trail Association, and Santa Fe National Historic Trail have a 20-year history of cooperation that brings tourist dollars and nation-wide historic awareness to Marion County. Let’s keep that going and not have opposition to national historic trails in any resolution.

“I would like to have the right to use a conservation easement to protect my prairie and my historic site on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

“I am very much opposed to anything in the resolution that would prohibit landowners from voluntarily entering into any legal agreement affecting their land, including entering into a conservation easement.”

Asked after the meeting why planning and zoning would not have input in the decision, Mueller said department head Sharon Omstead had thought it was not in the planning commission’s purview.

Omstead said she thought commissioners were contemplating sending a letter to state representatives, not passing a resolution.

“It would have to come from the commissioners,” Omstead said. “Activists are wanting to have people respond to legislators. That would go through the commission.”

Omstead said she had been researching the 30x30 Program and would make a report to commissioners.

“There will be more information, and all of the commissioners will be made aware my comments based on research,” she said.

Last modified June 26, 2024