30 x 30

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Landowners Derail 49-County National Heritage Area

by | May 27, 2021 | 30x30 | 0 comments

A group of educators and students from the University of Nebraska initiated an idea that developed into an effort to designate 49 counties in Nebraska and Kansas as a National Heritage Area, to preserve the legacy of author Willa Cather.  

The Heritage Area Designation would require a management plan to be developed under the National Park Service (NPS), through which federal funding would be distributed to preserve the historical sites.  A non-profit board was formed, and a feasibility study was being planned, as required by the NPS, before landowners, counties and others directly impacted by the designation had been alerted. It is their land and their communities that would fall under the new federal designation.

Spearheaded by Angel Cushing, a series of landowner educational meetings across the 49 counties was initiated with the help of Nebraska farmer and radio host Trent Loos, as well as Colorado landowner, Norman Kincade, who had successfully fought off a similar designation in his area.  As landowners became educated, they opposed the designation, and many of the counties passed resolutions officially stating their opposition.

Proponents of the NHA commented that the timing of the project was unfortunate as it became linked with the Biden Administrations 30 x 30 plan.

Four board members for the non-profit group set to seek the designation have resigned.  The Project lead, architectural professor Kim Wilson, noted that the group will be taking a pause as they re-group.  “This has really worn out the board and we don’t have the capacity to deal with this head-on,” she said. “So hopefully in the next six months — people won’t forget it, but maybe it won’t have the same front-page emphasis that it has right now.” (“How A Plan To Boost Kansas-Nebraska Tourism Got Wrapped Up In Fears Of A 30×30 ‘Land-Grab’,” Missouri Independent)

Although the white flag being waived by NHA proponents may be temporary, the landowners across the 49-county region are better educated and prepared to resist the designation. For those counties in the region who have not yet passed the resolution opposing the NHA, you can get a copy here.

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