This column by Mona Weatherly was originally published in the June 3, 2021 issue of the Custer County Chief.
The governor is coming to Broken Bow for a meeting on 30x30 (see page A3) and the public is invited to attend. If you want to study up on the issue, look for the back issues of the Chief: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 and May 27.
If you talk to people across the state, most will probably say they are for conservation. Taking care of earth, water and air is a good thing. But one of the main problems with EO 14008/30x30 as it pertains to conservation and the following “America the Beautiful,” the plan that followed it 90 days later, is vagueness. There are no details on how 30 percent of U.S. lands in conservation by 2030 will be achieve. There lies the catch-22.
Have you ever been a part of a business or organization that has proposed a large renovation, a huge software update or a multi-company merger? Usually when first announced, only the big overview, the “30,000 feet up” view is given. It’s only later that the details, the “ground level” work to be done are revealed. Until that happens, a lot of people react, sometimes negatively, because they don’t know what’s going on.
The same with 30x30. It’s so vague it’s nearly impossible to think it can be assessed fairly across the board if implemented at all. Its vagueness raises more questions than it answers. Yet at the same time, if the plan were unrolled with all details complete, there would be plenty of reaction, also a lot of it negative, because you don’t make decisions about what happens to Nebraska land without consulting Nebraska landowners.
Here are a few of my many thoughts on the matter.
#1. When counting land towards the 30 percent, include land that is already under conservation, whether it be state, federal or privately owned land. With 97 percent of Nebraska land privately owned, we’d be well on our way to making our own 30 percent, I bet.
#2. If anyone says we need more land in Nebraska moved to wildlife and conservation habitat, I invite them to come on out and drive our county roads, especially at dawn and dusk. After three or more deer hits in a relatively short time, they might begin to agree that we have plenty of wildlife roaming our area.
#3. It’s been said that the California wildfires are one of the driving concerns. That should be a concern. However, in Nebraska where we don’t build on top of each other and we use prescribed burns to help manage growth where it’s needed, we don’t need to be bound by California’s lack of planning.
#4. Central Plains and some Western states are sometimes perceived as “a lot of empty space” that isn’t used for anything and is therefore up for grabs. It’s not. We know our wide open spaces are necessary for raising crops and livestock. Anybody who likes to eat should be grateful for that.
#5. Each state (and maybe even each large metropolitan area) need to contribute equally.
Don’t sit in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., and dream of pastures and fields as your next park. Build some green spaces in your city and, when you enjoy a picnic of hot dogs and hamburgers in those green spaces, be glad for the farmers and ranchers who raised the food to feed you.
#6. It’s said Executive Order 14008 will create jobs in the areas of conservation and climate control. I’m all for economic growth and good jobs, but, hey, we can’t fill the job openings we have now! Let’s untangle problems with our current work force first.
#7. The text of 30x30 said stakeholders will be invited to the table to give input. So far, of the many people I’ve contacted, only one has said they’ve been invited - James Douglas, Commissioner of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
If you read the last article I wrote on 30x30, you know that Douglas was invited to comment in March at Fish and Wildlife Agencies meeting in Washington D.C. As reported in the May 27 Chief, Nebraska Game and Parks is well aware of the role that private conservation efforts play in the state. “The fate of wildlife in Nebraska depends on private ownership, Douglas said.
In addition, he was among 20 directors of game and parks commissions who said in March that private land ownership must be respected. “We recognize the rights of private landowners to make their own decisions.” Douglas said. “Any enhancements need to recognize private property is our right and recognize conservation that is already going on.”
#8. Finally, we don’t have to make this a partisan issue. Let’s not assume what someone thinks just because they are Democrat or Republican. Leave party affiliations at the door. This is a Nebraska issue.
I think 30x30 may have some good intentions but until we get the details, we’re all a bit anxious. That doesn’t mean we come out swinging, speak angrily and shut each other down.
Rather, let’s get on to discussing the details and involve people who know and care for the land in the discussion. We want what’s best for Nebraska and together, civilly and respectfully, we will find a way to get it.
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